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SPORT | Page 12
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Middle East airlines post
13% traffic growth in ’14
first British
rider to win
Ladies Tour
of Qatar
Latest Figures
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Kerry meets GCC ministers in Munich
in Yemen
In brief
ARAB WORLD | Militancy
Jordan vows to
‘eradicate’ IS
Jordan vowed further retaliation
against the Islamic State group
for the burning alive of one of
its pilots, as thousands rallied in
Amman yesterday in solidarity with
his grieving family. The Jordanian
military said “dozens of jet fighters”
struck IS targets on Thursday, hitting
militant training camps as well as
weapons and ammunition depots.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
told CNN the operation was “the
beginning of our retaliation over this
horrific and brutal murder of our
brave young pilot”. IS on Tuesday
released a highly choreographed
video of the horrifying murder of
pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose
death has sparked grief and deep
anger in Jordan. Judeh declined to
reveal Jordan’s military plans but
said it would hit the militants with all
its might. Page 5
Police arrest
former PM
Police in Mauritius arrested the
former prime minister Navinchandra
Ramgoolam yesterday, media reports
said, sparking angry demonstrations
from supporters in the Indian Ocean
island nation. Ramgoolam, 67, who
accepted defeat in parliamentary polls
in December, was arrested and held
in prison for questioning yesterday
afternoon, local newspapers reported.
Le Mauricien newspaper said the
arrest was connected to a burglary
that took place in 2011 at a beach
property belonging to Ramgoolam.
Police have been seeking to question
Ramgoolam for allegedly lying about
his presence at the scene of the
robbery, and asking a businessman
to give false testimony to the police.
It remains unclear why Ramgoolam
may have lied about his presence at
the property.
BRITAIN | Anniversary
Queen Elizabeth marks
63 years on throne
Queen Elizabeth yesterday
celebrated 63 years on the British
throne as she neared the record set
by Queen Victoria for the longestreigning monarch. She marked the
occasion privately at her estate in
Sandringham, southeast England,
where she spends her annual winter
break. Elizabeth became queen aged
25 when her father, King George VI
- subject of Oscar-winning film The
King’s Speech - died from a coronary
thrombosis on February 6, 1952.
The 88-year-old monarch, who will
break her great-great-grandmother
Victoria’s record on September 9 this
year, was on a tour in Kenya at the
time of her father’s death. Pages 2, 10
US Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, third right,
and other GCC foreign ministers during a meeting being held as part of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany
yesterday. Al-Attiyah is leading Qatar’s delegation to the conference which is an international forum for dialogue on security
policy. The Ukraine conflict, Islamic State group militants and the wider “collapse of the global order” will occupy the world’s
security community at the annual meeting. Page 3
Motor Show a huge draw
as top brands go on display
he fifth edition of the Qatar
Motor Show being held under
the patronage of HE Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa
al-Thani, the Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior, yesterday attracted a large number of automobile aficionados and motorsports
enthusiasts. World-class automobile brands are participating in the
Apart from witnessing launches
of some much-awaited automobile
brands in the region, visitors were engaged and entertained with a plethora
of activities at the show.
Many leading brands organised
competitions that gave away prizes.
Harley Davidson hosted a photo
competition where participants were
asked to share their picture of the
Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Qatar
chapter under the hashtag #HOG_
qatar_chapter. The most liked picture
won special giveaways.
Nasser Bin Khaled Automobiles
(NBK) asked visitors to share their
photos via Instagram under the hash-
The cockpit of a Mercedes.
Porsche is showcasing its powerful
models at the show.
The Harley Davidson stand at the
Qatat Motor Show.
tag #MercedesBenz_Qatar and win a
surprise gift.
Official retail bank partner Commercial Bank gave visitors a chance
to win incredible prizes by sharing a
selfie on Twitter or Instagram with the
Minicooper car at their stand under
the hashtag #motorselfie.
Nasser Bin Khaled Automobiles,
the exclusive dealer of MercedesBenz in Qatar, displayed four of its
wide range of cars, including Maybach S Class, AMG GT S, CLA 250 and
GLA 45 AMG, at the show.
In addition, NBK unveiled the
new Harley-Davidson Street 750, a
new line to the 2015 assembly. Powered by a new Revolution X liquid
cooled engine, a six speed transmission, specially tuned shocks
and a frame and suspension made
for tight turns and quick moves, it
has been built to deal effortlessly
with the urban gridlock. Simultaneously, Nasser Bin Khaled Powered
Sports announced its partnership
with Husqvarna Motorcycle, the renowned Sweden motorcycle manufacturer.
The Audi sport stand theme featured the Audi S3, Audi S6 and Audi
S7 as well as customer favourite, Audi
Porsche showcased the most powerful new Porsche Cayenne models.
The Qatar National Convention
Centre (QNCC), where the show is
being held, hosted the Middle Eastern debut of the latest incarnation
of a historic bloodline, the Porsche
911 Targa 4 GTS. A special fourth regional premiere thrilled audiences in
the form of the Panamera Exclusive
Series. Based on the Panamera Turbo
S Executive, the new model delivers a
level of luxury and unique craftsmanship that is unrivalled in the automotive sector.
The Motorshow also saw Volkswagen Middle East unveil a more powerful Jetta with a 2.5litre engine.
Page 20
Hundreds of protesters took to
the streets in the Yemeni city of
Taiz to reject the Houthi takeover,
according to eyewitnesses
emen’s dominant Houthi movement yesterday dissolved parliament and said a new interim
assembly and government would be
formed, a move denounced by a main
political faction as a coup.
Yemen has been in political limbo
since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour
Hadi and the government of Prime
Minister Khaled Bahah resigned last
month after the Houthis seized the
presidential palace and confined the
head of state to his residence in a struggle to tighten control.
Yemen’s instability has drawn international concern as it shares a long
border with top world oil exporter
Saudi Arabia, and the country is also
fighting one of the most formidable
branches of Al Qaeda with the help of
US drone strikes.
The Houthis, who became power
brokers when they overran Sanaa in
September, had been holding talks with
the main political factions trying to
agree a way out of the stand-off.
Yesterday’s declaration suggested
that the Houthis had taken on more
powers, including forming the new
parliament and control over the military and security forces.
Some political leaders attended the
announcement, which took place at the
Presidential Palace.
The new assembly is to elect a fivemember interim presidential council to
manage Yemeni affairs in a transitional
period of up to two years, according to a
televised statement.
“What the Houthis have done is
political suicide and also a coup that
would lead the country into the unknown,” said Nasser al-Noubah, a
leader of the southern separatist movement al-Hirak.
Hundreds of protesters took to the
streets in the Yemeni city of Taiz to reject the Houthi takeover, eyewitnesses
Other main political forces such as
the Sunni Islamist Islah party and the
Common Front coalition said they were
still studying the latest developments
and would meet on Saturday to declare
their position.
The Houthis had set a Wednesday
deadline for political factions to agree
a way out of the crisis, otherwise the
group would impose its own solution.
In Washington, the US State Department said the Houthis’ unilateral declaration “does not meet the standard of a
consensus-based solution to Yemen’s political crisis”, and that Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi continued as president until
parliament accepted his resignation.
“It’s a very complicated and fluid
situation on the ground,” said State
Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
She said that the US continued to
work with Yemen security forces that
are fighting terrorists, which she calls
a “separate piece” from the Houthi
“We’ll see what happens in the coming days. Obviously, counterterrorism
is an incredibly important priority for
us in Yemen.”
The UN is alarmed by what it described as a power vacuum in Yemen
after the Houthi movement’s latest
moves, a UN spokesman said. “This
power vacuum is of great concern to
us,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
“The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon)
and all of those who are concerned with
Yemen here are following the situation
very closely.” He added that UN special
envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar was
now returning to Sanaa because of the
escalating crisis.
Gulf states urge bigger international role
Gulf Arab States have called for a “stronger”
position by the international community
on the situation in Yemen, a senior US
State Department official said in Munich
yesterday following meetings with US
Secretary of State John Kerry. The meeting
between Kerry and ministers from
Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also
expressed concern about Iran’s influence
in Yemen but no arrangements were made
to talk to Tehran about it, the official added.
“There was a feeling that the international
community needed to take a stronger
position, either through the UN or another
multilateral organisation,” the official added.
Companies planning special programmes for employees on Sport Day
By Ayman Adly
Staff Reporter
he National Sport Day, marked
on the second Tuesday of February every year, is a special event
for Qatar which has ambitious plans to
become a world capital of sporting activities.
“The National Sport Day is a popular event with all sections of society as
it promotes a health way of life,” says
Saad Abdulla, a Qatari, who owns a
construction company.
He said that every year he gave his
employees free sport clothes bearing
the company’s logo and encouraged
them to go out and play their favourite
games or do exercises.
All government departments and
many private sector companies plan
to organise special programmes to get
their employees and their families involved in some sport activities.
The members of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) are set to mark
the day with the staff while expressing
their hope that the occasion would be
used by the residents as a good opportunity to adopt a healthy lifestyle and
make it a regular habit.
A number of families said they
had made plans to spend the day out
among their community members and
take part in activities planned for various age groups.
“We are planning to leave Doha
early in the morning and go to the Sealine area where small groups would be
able to play their favourite games but
the focus will be on football and swim-
ming,” said Hassan, an Arab expatriate.
“Even though I do some jogging
every day, especially in the afternoons
on the Corniche, sport activities on
this day have a special attraction because it is a public event and everybody
is keen to be part of it,” said a European
expatriate woman.
The fourth edition of the National
Sport Day is expected to witness
more activities than the previous
ones. Many residents see it as a true
display of the country’s approach
to promote a healthy lifestyle for its
residents. Different stadiums, the
Corniche, the Aspire Zone and the
Sport Village set up by the Qatar
Olympic Committee are the spots
within Doha that are set to witness
huge turnouts of sport enthusiasts
on the day.
The National Sport Day is a public
holiday in Qatar.
“Many of the major infrastructure
and construction projects of the country are spurred by the preparation for
the World Cup 2022, ” said Hamad,
a local entrepreneur, stressing the
strong link between sport and good
business climate and opportunities in
the country.
Shops that sell sportwear have reported good sale of items like T-shirts,
sport pants and shoes in the last few
“Some companies have ordered bulk
quantities with a request to put their
logos on T-shirts and caps. This is
a one-day event but it is a very good
business opportunity for us,” said an
expatriate supervisor at a sport goods
A girl trying her hand at table tennis at the Sports Village. Several facilities have been
set up in Qatar as the country prepares to hold its National Sport Day.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Art and sport fuse talents
in aid of poor children
By Denise Marray
GT London Correspondent
he worlds of sport and art
have fused their respective talents in support of
the ‘1 in 11’ campaign to ‘Extend
Educational Opportunities to
Children in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal’. Next week in
London, Sotheby’s will auction
eighteen artworks donated by
celebrated artists in support of
the FC Barcelona Foundation,
Reach Out To Asia (Rota) and
Unicef campaign.
Qatari artist Yousef Ahmad
has donated an artwork which
will go under the hammer on
February 12 alongside Damien
Hirst’s ‘Beautiful Messi Spin
Painting for One in Eleven’, featuring the famous footballer,
who alongside the tennis champion Serena Williams, launched
the campaign last month.
Globally, ‘1 in 11’ primary
school-age children – or 58mn
out of 650mn children – are
out of school. The majority are
among the most disadvantaged
and vulnerable: children living in areas affected by conflict;
children in extreme poverty;
children with disabilities; children from indigenous communities. In addition, in many
schools, sports programming
does not exist, even though
studies have shown that including sports in school curricula
can inspire children to attend
and stay in school, lead to better
physical health, and help to improve their grades.
The funds raised by ‘1 in 11’
will focus initially on education
programmes in Indonesia, Nepal
and Bangladesh.
To generate a bit of fanfare
leading up the Sotheby’s fundraising auction, the World
Champion Football Freestyler,
John Farnworth, gave a demonstration of his fancy footwork
against a backdrop of some of the
donated works at Sotheby’s New
Bond Street premises yesterday.
Alongside the artworks, two
lots to go under the hammer are
bound to prove popular. Lot 2 offers the opportunity to become
an FC Barcelona Board member
for a day including attending
a game with VIP seats, while
Lot 15 offers a Long Weekend in
Barcelona for two persons, including an opportunity to meet
Lionel Messi.
To announce Sotheby’s forthcoming auction on Feb 12 in support of the ‘1 in 11’ campaign, football freestyle
world champion John Farnworth performs in front of ‘Beautiful Messi Spin Painting for ‘1 in 11’ by Damien
Hirst at Sotheby’s yesterday.
Woqod holds workshop for road contractors
atar Fuel (Woqod) organised a training workshop
focusing on high performance bitumen for companies to
achieve sustainable roads in Qatar.
Local road contracting companies and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) attended along with
senior officials of Woqod.
Subjects discussed included
an overview of bitumen properties and its relationship to pavement performance, conventional
and advanced tests that are used
to measure bitumen properties,
quality control and best practices
in storing and handling bitumen.
“As the largest supplier of bitumen and bituminous products in
Qatar, it is essential that Woqod
sets the highest of standards,”
Woqod CEO Ibrahim al Kuwari
said, adding: “Woqod is working
hard to ensure that the new roads
in Qatar meet the latest technology in pavement materials and application so providing long lasting
road surfaces with minimum need
for maintenance.”
Man accused
of throwing
his wife from
he Criminal Court has
acquitted a man, who
was accused of throwing his wife to death from the
balcony of their fourth floor
The prosecution said the
woman died after falling from
the balcony of their residence
and charged her husband for
causing her death. The accused was also found to be a
drug addict, who often quarrelled with his wife and beat
her up, local daily Al-Sharq
On the day of the incident,
the woman did not allow the
man to enter the house when
he returned from office in the
afternoon. But when he eventually gained entry he beat her
up and later she was found lying injured on the ground. She
was later declared dead.
The prosecution mostly
based the case on the testimony of the victim’s sister, who
lived with the family.
The sister had mentioned
during investigation that the
man used to quarrel with his
wife frequently and hit her because of his drug addiction.
She said that on the fateful
day, the man came from work
but the victim didn’t allow
him to enter the flat. “When
he entered, he pulled her hair,
pushed her into a room and
locked the door.”
The sister said she went out
to find a telephone to call the
police. “When I returned to
the building I saw my sister
dead on the ground.” But the
witness said she didn’t see her
sister falling from the balcony.
According to the chargesheet, when the police arrived
on the scene the man attempted to run away but he was
The defence relied on
the testimony of the son of
the victim who had told the
housemaid that his mother threw herself from the
During investigations, the
seven-year-old boy again testified that he saw his father
hitting his mother but it was
his mother who threw herself
from the balcony.
Lawyer Mohammed alMohannadi said the court
acquitted the accused due to
the failure of the prosecution
to prove that it was the man
who threw his wife from the
Qatar congratulates
N Zealand, UK queen
H the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad alThani yesterday cabled congratulations to New
Zealand’s governor-general,
Sir Jerry Mateparae, on the
occasion of his country’s National Day. HH the Deputy
Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin
Hamad al-Thani and HE the
Prime Minister and Minister
of Interior Sheikh Abdullah
bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani also cabled congratulations
A group picture of the participants.
Electrical shop closed down
to the governor-general.
Also yesterday, HH the Emir
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad
al-Thani cabled congratulations to Queen Elizabeth of the
United Kingdom on her accession to the throne. HH the
Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah
bin Hamad and HE the Prime
Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser also cabled congratulations
to Queen Elizabeth on the
Kulluna launches Paediatric
Pain Awareness Week
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has closed down an electrical shop in the Industrial Area
for one month for selling fake power tools. Pictured is a ministry official sticking a notice of the
closure on the door of the outlet.
n an effort to raise awareness about the prevalence
of pain assessment and
pain management in children,
Kulluna for Health and Safety,
an initiative of Hamad International Training Center, has
launched the Paediatric Pain
Awareness Week.
Kulluna, meaning ‘all of us’,
is a five-year health and safety
awareness campaign co-sponsored by ConocoPhillips with
the aim to raise levels of public
awareness about general health
issues, personal safety and
lifesaving practices.
Following the Qatar International Pain Conference, Paediatric Pain Awareness Week
in collaboration with Canadabased Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), aims to educate staff, children and families
about the importance of recognising and treating pain in
infants and children.
With the mission to educate
people regarding important issues impacting health and safety, Kulluna has created a multifaceted educational event that
will take place throughout the
week highlighting aspects of
pain in children.
Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, chairman, Kulluna, said:
“Child safety is one of the most
important areas of healthcare in
Qatar. It is crucial that children
are always in a safe environment, but if need be, we should
be able to recognise and mini-
HMC officials at the opening of Paediatric Pain Awareness Week at Landmark mall.
mise pain within both home and
outside settings. Through the
launch of Pediatric Pain Awareness Week, we are attempting to
engage the community to come
together to learn about how they
can create a safe environment
for their families.”
ConocoPhillips Qatar, stated:
“As founding sponsor of Kulluna, we take great pleasure
to launch yet another important awareness campaign to
the community. We at ConocoPhillips value health and
safety as an essential pillar of
our organisational culture, and
supporting the pain management campaign for children is
a fantastic way to raise aware-
ness and give back to the community we operate in. We wish
through this campaign to reach
out to parents and ease the pain
of every child in Qatar.”
As part of the programme, fun
booths will be opened for children and families at City Center
Doha and Landmark Mall. Children and families will have a
chance to play and learn during
activities as well as meet with
nurses, doctors and child life
specialists to talk about childfriendly techniques for reducing
painful experiences, both in the
healthcare setting and at home.
Dr Michael Levis, chairman,
pediatric pain working group,
said: “Part of keeping children
safe is reassuring them that if
they have pain, they will not
needlessly suffer, because we as
caregivers have the experience,
the tools, and the responsibility to treat pain in children and
keep them safe from further
wwMariam al Mutawa, director, nursing for HMC/SickKids partnership project, said:
“Children, no matter what
age, feel pain and they should
be made aware about the importance of communicating
any pain to their caregivers. It
doesn’t matter how strong a
child is, untreated pain can decrease the quality of life and
harm health and it is our responsibility to reduce any such
stress on their health.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Kerry stresses March deadline in talks with Zarif
ecretary of State John
Kerry stressed to his Iranian counterpart yesterday
that the US aimed to meet a late
March deadline for a deal reining
in Iran’s nuclear programme.
Kerry “reiterated our desire to
move toward a political framework by the end of March”, a
senior US official said after the
secretary met Foreign Minister
Mohamed Javad Zarif for two
hours in Munich.
Global powers have been struggling for more than a year to pin
down a comprehensive deal to
rein in Iran’s suspect nuclear programme, after an interim accord
was struck in November 2013.
After missing two previous
deadlines, the group known as
the P5+1 - Britain, China, France,
Germany, Russia, and the United
States- set a March 31 deadline
for a political agreement.
That would be followed by a
final deal setting out all the technical points of what would be a
complex accord by June 30.
But the atmosphere has been
complicated by hardliners both
in Iran and the United States,
with US lawmakers threatening
to impose new sanctions on Iran
if the March deadline is missed.
So far, Iran has frozen some
of its nuclear enrichment programme in return for limited
sanctions relief.
“We face a major opportunity
in resolving the Iranian nuclear
issue. China is ready to enhance
communication and co-operation with relevant parties to
work for the early conclusion of
a just, balanced and comprehensive agreement,” China’s State
Councillor Yang Jiechi told the
Munich Security Conference.
But in a renewed sign of tensions, Iran’s President Hassan
Rouhani berated the world’s nuclear powers on Wednesday, saying atomic weapons had not kept
them safe, and reiterating his
country was not seeking the bomb.
He avoided explicit mention
of the ongoing nuclear talks, but
accused atomic-armed states of
“They tell us ‘we don’t want
Iran to make atomic bombs’, you
who have made atomic bombs,”
Rouhani said.
Kerry and Zarif have met many
times over the past months, mostly
in European capitals, as they have
sought to hammer out a deal. Their
political teams have also been negotiating behind the scenes.
Both diplomats were in Germany to take part in the annual security conference that this year will
focus on the “collapse of the global
order”, and which US Vice President Joe Biden is also attending.
Government leaders from
around the world will discuss the
conflict in Ukraine, war in Syria,
the threat from Islamic State
militants and other crises from
Ebola to refugees.
Today, Kerry is due to meet his
Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks focusing on Syria,
Ukraine and the Iranian nuclear
Israel official
suggests PM
was misled
on US speech
senior Israeli official suggested yesterday that
Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu had been misled into
thinking an invitation to address
the US Congress on Iran next
month was fully supported by
the Democrats.
Netanyahu was invited by the
Republican speaker of the house,
John Boehner, to address Congress on March 3, an invitation
Boehner originally described as
The move angered the White
House, which is upset about the
event coming two weeks before
Israeli elections and the fact that
Netanyahu, who has a testy relationship with President Obama,
is expected to be critical of US
policy on Iran.
“It appears that the speaker of
Congress made a move, in which
we trusted, but which it ultimately
became clear was a one-sided
move and not a move by both
sides,” Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told 102 FM
Tel Aviv Radio yesterday.
The interviewer asked if that
meant Netanyahu had been
“misled” into believing Boehner’s invitation was bipartisan, a
characterisation Hanegbi did not
Asked whether the prime minister should cancel or postpone
the speech, Hanegbi said: “What
would the outcome be then? The
outcome would be that we forsake an arena in which there is a
going to be a very dramatic decision (on Iran).”
The invitation has caused a furore in Washington, leading to much
criticism of Boehner by Democrats
and repeated statements by Boehner and other Republicans explaining their position.
Netanyahu has denied seeking
electoral gains or meddling in internal US affairs with the speech,
in which he is expected to warn
world powers against agreeing to
anything short of a total rollback
of Iran’s nuclear programme.
A Netanyahu spokesman declined to comment on Hanegbi’s
comments yesterday. Hanegbi is
a senior member of Netanyahu’s
Likud party.
Acknowledging that Democrats had been “pained” by the
invitation, Hanegbi said Netanyahu and Israeli emissaries were
making “a huge effort to make
clear to them that this is not a
move that flouts the president of
the United States”.
Yet Hanegbi said the address
to Congress could help pass a
bill, opposed by Obama, for new
US sanctions on Iran.
“The Republicans know, as the
president has already made clear,
that he will veto this legislation.
So in order to pass legislation
that overcomes the veto, twothirds are required in the Senate. So if the prime minister can
persuade another one or two or
another three or four, this could
have weight,” he said.
Turkey pulls out of Munich conference
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu pulled out of a
security conference in Munich
at the last minute yesterday,
saying he did not wish to attend
a joint session with an Israeli
Relations between the formerly
steadfast allies remain strained
since a major rupture in 2010,
when Israeli marines killed nine
Turkish pro-Palestinian activists
in clashes aboard a ship that
Saudi puts off
flogging of
blogger again
Saudi Arabia yesterday postponed for a fourth straight week
the flogging of blogger Raef
Badawi who was sentenced to
1,000 lashes for insulting Islam,
his wife said.
Ensaf Haidar told AFP that he
was not flogged, but she did “not
know the reasons”.
The 30-year-old received the first
50 lashes of his sentence outside
a mosque in Jeddah on January
The next round of punishment
was postponed for the following
two weeks on medical grounds.
Haidar, who has sought asylum
with their three children in Canada, has voiced concerns about
the health of her husband, who
has suffered from hypertension
since his arrest in June 2012.
Badawi co-founded the nowbanned Saudi Liberal Network
along with women’s rights
campaigner Suad al-Shammari,
who was also accused of insulting
Islam and arrested last October.
The charges against Badawi were
brought after his group criticised
clerics and the kingdom’s religious police.
tried to break the blockade on
the Gaza Strip. A tenth Turk
later died of injuries from the
“I was going to attend the conference but we decided not to
after they added Israeli officials
to the Middle East session at
the last minute,” Cavusoglu told
a news conference in Berlin,
where he has been meeting
Turkish ambassadors based in
Protesters show posters featuring Iranian director Jafar Panahi in front of the Berlinale Festival Palace as they demonstrate yesterday against the ban on Panahi.
Iran director’s banned
film shown at Berlin fest
Taxi is one of 19 contenders
for Berlin’s Golden Bear
top prize, to be awarded on
February 14
ranian dissident director
Jafar Panahi’s latest picture defying an official ban,
Taxi, premiered to enthusiastic
applause yesterday at the Berlin film festival, marking a new
chapter of his career in the shadows.
The 54-year-old’s work is celebrated in the world’s arthouses
but outlawed in Iran where the
regime considers his gritty, socially critical productions to be
He was detained for a documentary he tried to make on the
unrest following Iran’s disputed
2009 presidential election and
officially banned from making
more films for 20 years for “acting against national security and
propaganda against the regime”.
Taxi is the third picture he’s
made flouting the sentence, and
while he won’t be able to walk
Berlin’s red carpet as he is barred
from travelling abroad, he issued
a wrenching statement about his
drive to keep working despite
the risks.
“I’m a filmmaker. I can’t do
anything else but make films.
Cinema is my expression and the
meaning of my life,” he said.
He said “cinema as an art”
was the “main preoccupation”
of his life.
“That is the reason why I have
to continue making films under
any circumstances to pay my respect and feel alive.”
In Taxi, Panahi himself offers his impressions of contemporary Tehran from behind the
wheel of a yellow cab, ducking
the authorities’ prying eyes by
filming with a mounted dashboard camera.
Each person he offers a lift has
a story to tell.
His first fares, two strangers
going the same way, launch into
a political debate about Shariah
law and capital punishment.
The man argues that car parts
thieves should be hanged, while
the teacher in the back seat says
the state ordering the death
penalty has done little to foster
the social order.
“After China, we have the
most executions!” she protests,
as the discussion grows increasingly heated.
A third man gets in and when
the feuding pair finally get out
of the taxi, he says he recognises
the director Panahi in the driver’s seat.
Thus begins a film within a
film in which the man, a seller
of pirated film DVDs, jokes with
Panahi about the acting skills of
the first two people in the cab.
Panahi continues to drive and
is a genial master of ceremonies,
treating his sometimes hysterical fares with unfailing politeness and good humour.
The tone shifts again when he
picks up from school his preco-
Bahrain clashes
cious young niece, a budding
filmmaker who has been taught
the strict rules governing movie
As she pulls out a small camera and turns it on the director, she explains what she has
learned from her teacher about
movie-making: all women must
wear the Islamic headscarf,
there must be no physical contact between men and women,
political and economic debate
must be avoided and most of all:
no “sordid realism”.
Panahi humours her but when
he recognises a prominent human rights lawyer by the side of
the road, he stops to pick her up.
The woman charms Panahi’s
niece and when the director confides that he just spoke to a man
who he believes interrogated him
while he was forced to wear a
blindfold, she comforts him.
“Such simplistic tactics,” she
said, noting that the regime occasionally used the technique
to give dissidents the maddening sense that they could never
Uruguay expels Iran
diplomat: Israel media
A protester gestures at riot police during clashes yesterday in the village of Bilad al-Qadeem, south of Manama. The protesters
were demanding the release of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the Al Wefaq Islamic Society, who was arrested on
December 28 last year after leading a protest rally against elections in November which his party boycotted.
escape surveillance, with some
preferring actual imprisonment
to paranoid “freedom”.
The film builds to a chilling
climax in which the extent and
limits of the director’s liberties
are revealed, drawing a strongly
positive reaction at a press preview.
Taxi is one of 19 contenders for
Berlin’s Golden Bear top prize, to
be awarded on February 14.
Panahi’s last movie, 2013’s
elegiac Closed Curtain, was also
shot in secret, in the confines of
his villa on the Caspian Sea.
It won a Silver Bear in Berlin
for best screenplay, drawing a
protest from the Iranian government.
The film festivals in Berlin,
Venice and Cannes have invited
him in recent years to sit on their
juries, each leaving a symbolic
empty chair for him since he was
kept from leaving the country.
“We will keep inviting him
until he can attend,” Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick told
reporters last week.
ruguay has expelled a
senior Iranian diplomat
over last month’s planting of a dummy bomb near Israel’s embassy in Montevideo,
Israeli daily Haaretz reported
Citing an unidentified “senior
official in Jerusalem”, it said the
diplomat was expelled two weeks
ago and although Uruguayan officials briefed Israel on the move
they made no public announcement.
“Investigations carried out by
Uruguay’s intelligence services
after the discovery of the device
yielded information pointing to
a possible involvement of someone at the Iranian embassy,”
Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent wrote.
“The Uruguayan government
turned to Iran’s government for
information and after consultations between the two, it was
decided to expel one of the senior
diplomats at Iran’s embassy.”
Israel’s foreign ministry declined to confirm or deny the
“I am aware of it but I have
nothing to add,” a spokesman
On January 8, Montevideo
bomb squad officers detonated
what turned out to be a fake
bomb near the Israeli embassy,
located in the World Trade Centre office complex in the city.
fake—complete with fuse, detonator and other elements found
in a real bomb—was detected
some 70m from the building by
bomb-sniffing dogs.
After destroying the device,
bomb brigade Lieutenant Colonel
Alfredo Larramendi told reporters
that it “never posed any danger”
but might have been part of a dress
rehearsal for the real thing.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Father, son die in Benghazi suicide bomb attack
suicide car bomber struck
a Libyan army post in the
battleground second city
of Benghazi yesterday, killing a
father and son, the military said.
Milud al-Zwei, spokesman for
the army’s special forces, said
the blast killed the two bystanders and wounded 20 other people, mostly soldiers.
The bomber was headed
for an army post in the central district of Al Lithi but was
intercepted and blew up his
car short of the target, he said.
Benghazi has been gripped
by a months-long battle pitting
Islamist militias against forces
loyal to an internationally recognised government and its backer,
General Khalifa Haftar.
On Thursday pro-Haftar forces expelled Islamist militias from
Benghazi port, an army source
He said the Islamists, who had
been using the port to resupply
with arms, were now cornered
in the Souq al-Hut (fish market)
But Katibat Rafallah al-Sahati,
one of the militias, issued a state-
ment on its Facebook page denying the army had made major advances in the eastern city, which
Islamists seized last summer.
Benghazi is one of the least stable parts of Libya, which has been
plunged into chaos since a 2011
revolution that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The North African state has
two rival governments and parliaments, as heavily armed rival
militias battling for control of its
cities and oil wealth.
Army forces in eastern Libya
are loyal to internationally recognised Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, who was forced
to leave the capital Tripoli in the
west in August for the eastern
city of Baida when a group called
Libya Dawn seized the capital.
The new rulers in Tripoli set
up their own government and
parliament, but these have not
been recognised by the United
Air strikes by
military kill
27 militants in
Egypt’s Sinai
ilitary air strikes killed
27 Islamic militants
in Egypt’s Northern
Sinai yesterday in one of the
biggest security operations in
the region in months, security
sources said.
Apache helicopters targeted
militants from the Sinai Province group, which pledges allegiance to Islamic State, the ultra-hardline militants who have
seized swathes of Iraq and Syria,
the sources said.
Sinai Province, fighting to
topple the Cairo government,
has claimed responsibility
for co-ordinated attacks that
killed more than 30 members
of the security forces in late
After that bloodshed, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told
Egyptians the country faced a
long, tough battle against militants.
Sinai-based militants have
killed hundreds of soldiers and
police since then army chief Sisi
toppled president Mohamed
Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013 after mass
protests against his rule.
A security crackdown on
Brotherhood supporters—hundreds were killed in the streets
and thousands arrested—has
weakened the group.
Yesterday, Brotherhood supporters and security forces
clashed in the Cairo suburb of
Matariya, the state news agency
Eighteen people were killed
in the Brotherhood stronghold
during the January 25 anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni
Egyptian authorities have
also jailed liberal activists,
including some that gained
prominence in the 2011 popular
uprising that toppled autocrat
Hosni Mubarak, on charges of
violating a law that effectively
bans protests.
*France is in advanced talks
to sell Dassault Aviation-built
Rafale fighter jets to Egypt for
around 6bn euros ($6.88bn), Les
Echos newspaper reported on
negotiations with India for the last
three years, Dassault has still
not found a foreign buyer for its
multi-role jet, the Rafale, billed
to be one of the most effective
and sophisticated fighter jets in
the world, but also one of the
most expensive.
The business daily said the
two countries were close to finalising a deal for 24 jets and a
naval frigate worth 5 to 6bn euros.
The deal could be financed by
as much as 50% through a credit
facility arranged by French credit
insurer Coface .
A spokesman for Dassault declined to comment.
Paris and Cairo have enjoyed
close economic ties in the past
but turmoil in Egypt since Mubarak was overthrown left Western governments wary of signing
contracts, especially in the defence sector.
With the recent rise to power
of Sisi, ties have improved and
both sides are concerned by the
rise of militant groups in Libya
and Egypt.
France secured its first major military contract in Egypt
in about 20 years in 2014 with
a 1bn-euro ($1.35bn) deal to sell
four naval frigates.
Senior French officials have
repeatedly travelled to Egypt
over the last year and Sisi in November undertook a state visit
to Paris, where discussions were
held about replacing Egypt’s
fleet of 18 Dassault-made Mirage jets.
Egypt was the first foreign
buyer of the Mirage in 1981.
2.5mn at risk of hunger in South Sudan, UN agency warns
The number of people who are
at risk of going hungry in South
Sudan has reached 2.5mn, equal
to a fifth of the population and
more than double compared to
when the latest fighting in the
country broke out, a UN agency
said yesterday.
South Sudanese President Salva
Kir and rebel leader Riek Machar
have been locked in a violent
power struggle since December
2013, when clashes erupted
between their rival ethnic groups.
Tens of thousands have been
killed and nearly 2mn have been
The Rome-based Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
said increased food insecurity in
the nation was “staggering”. It
appealed for $32mn in donations
to expand its emergency aid
“Missed crop cycles in conflictravaged parts of the country
mean we’re now expecting
household food stocks in the
worst-affected counties to run
out by March 2015 - much earlier
than in a normal year,” FAO’s
top official for South Sudan, Sue
Lautze, said.
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid (left) shakes hands with his predecessor Mehdi Jomaa during a handover ceremony in Tunis yesterday.
New Tunisia PM promises
measures to boost growth
unisian Prime Minister
Habib Essid promised
quick reforms to stimulate growth as he took office
yesterday at the head of a coalition government combining
secular and Islamist parties.
Four years after toppling autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
and inspiring Arab Spring uprisings in nations like Egypt,
Libya and Syria, Tunisia is
widely praised as a model for
the region, having held free
elections last year and adopted
a new constitution.
But it faces pressure from its
international lenders to curb
high public spending, including by cutting politically sensitive subsidies on basic foods
and fuel. Jobs, high living costs
and economic opportunities
are the main worry for most
“After the success of the
democratic transition, now we
must make a successful economic transition, stimulate
growth, fight poverty and open
new windows of hope to desperate youths,” Essid said.
“We must immediately start
structural reforms of the economy and new development
schemes because temporary
solutions are no longer appropriate.”
Essid and his team took the
oath of office in front of President Beji Caid Essebsi before an
official handover from interim
premier Mehdi Jomaa.
Essid vowed to fight for
greater democracy and greater
regional stability.
Both Essid and Essebsi, who
was elected in December, paid
tribute to Chokri Belaid, an anti-Islamist politician shot dead
by suspected Islamist militants
exactly two years ago, with the
premier vowing to track down
the assassins.
Parliament on Thursday approved the coalition led by the
secular Nidaa Tounes party and
including moderate Islamist ri-
vals Ennahda, following landmark elections in the birthplace
of the Arab Spring.
Nidaa Tounes, which won
legislative elections in October,
holds six portfolios including
the foreign ministry, while the
interior, defence and justice
portfolios have gone to independents.
Ennahda has the labour ministry and three secretary of state
Nidaa Tounes won 86 of parliament’s 217 seats in October,
while Ennahda came in second
with 69.
The government sees economic growth accelerating to
3% in 2015 from an estimated
2.5% in 2014, while the budget
deficit is expected to narrow to
5% of gross domestic product
from 5.8%.
The International Monetary
Fund agreed in 2012 to support
Tunisia with a two-year credit
programme worth $1.74bn,
of which Tunis is still waiting for the final instalment. In
exchange, it agreed to keep its
deficit under control and make
the foreign exchange market
more flexible.
Essid announced his cabinet on Monday after dropping
his initial team when Ennahda
warned it would vote against
any line-up that excluded it.
Essid, a senior bureaucrat
under Ben Ali before becoming interior minister in the first
post-revolution government,
also held top positions under
an interim coalition led by Ennahda until early last year.
He has said the government’s
“top priority... will be one of
providing security and the battle against terrorism”.
Tunisia’s security forces are
battling militants who have
claimed responsibility for a
series of attacks on police and
soldiers that have killed dozens of people since Ben Ali’s
Additionally, some 2,0003,000 Tunisians, many holding
dual nationality, are believed to
have joined militants fighting in
Iraq and Syria.
Political posters in
Lebanon removed
Men take down a picture of former Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri in the Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh on Thursday.
ebanon has begun removing political posters and
party banners from neighbourhoods of the capital in a
move to unify a country still divided from a civil war, following
an agreement between the militant and political group Hezbollah and its rivals.
Beirut is fragmented into fiefdoms where political banners
and photographs of dead fighters and warlords have marked
territory controlled by various
groups since the start of the
civil war that raged from 1975 to
The poster ban was agreed by
Lebanon’s main political groupings after gun battles, car bombs
and skirmishes on the border
with Syria highlighted the need
for reconciliation.
Shia Muslim Hezbollah supports Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad against a majority
Sunni insurgency, angering its
Lebanese political rivals who
say it is dragging the country
into conflict 25 years after peace
In neighbourhoods where
Hezbollah is strong, posters of
men who fought Israel for decades have been joined by pictures of young men killed more
recently in Syria’s civil war.
“Ripping down the posters is
sensitive but it’s a political decision,” said a Beirut Hezbollah
supporter who asked to remain
anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“One family on this road was
upset because we took down a
photo of their son who died late
last year fighting in Syria,” he
said, speaking in Zarif, an old
district full of battered Frenchstyle houses.
He said 1,000 posters in the
area had been removed. Only a
few faded photos of Assad and
some tattered yellow Hezbollah
flags remained.
Bashir Itani, a senior mem-
ber of a rival political party,
Future Movement, said: “You
can now walk in the streets and
find it clean ... you couldn’t
previously see the sky due to
the banners.”
A large photograph of selfexiled Sunni politician Saad alHariri, a former prime minister,
was taken down from the Beirut
neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh.
In Lebanon’s coastal cities
of Sidon and Tripoli, centres
of sectarian violence between
armed groups, a similar cleanup was launched.
Most residents interviewed
by Reuters supported the move
in Beirut, where the posters are
seen by many as a menacing way
to mark out turf.
But they said it was just one
step in dampening sectarianism in a country still divided
into Christian, Sunni and Shia,
Druze and Alawite villages and
“It doesn’t change what people feel inside,” said one man.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
UAE urges arming Iraq Sunnis in IS fight: media
he United Arab Emirates pulled out of USled air strikes on Islamic
State positions partly because it
thought they could not succeed
without a push to arm Sunni
Muslim tribes in Iraq, a newspaper close to the government said
The UAE’s decision to withdraw its planes, reported by US
officials after a Jordanian pilot
was shot down over Syria on
December 24, raised fears that
regional support for the coalition air campaign might be
The UAE has not commented
on the reports of its decision
but US officials said it was concerned about pilots’ safety—Islamic State (IS) released a video
this week purporting to show
it burning Jordan’s First Lieutenant Maaz al-Kassasbeh to
Al Etihad newspaper said
yesterday that was only part of
the reasoning.
“The other important part
behind the UAE’s reservation
... was its discontent with the
coalition which has not kept
its promise in supporting the
Sunnis in Anbar, not prepar-
ing them, equipping them and
arming them to take part in the
war against Daesh,” the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Mohamed al-Hammadi, wrote in
an editorial.
“Neither the air strikes nor
the media war are enough to
defeat Daesh,” said the paper,
using a pejorative Arabic acronym for IS.
Etihad reported that UAE
officials had brought up their
concerns about the failure to
arm Sunni tribes at a meeting
of countries supporting the
coalition in London
“The UAE said: ‘the main
point is what we have expressed
in the last London conference—
coalition against Daesh—about
the continuation of not empowering the Sunni tribes in
Anbar province despite the
promises to do so’,” the paper
It did not give any details on
the source of its information.
Tribes in Iraq’s western Anbar province, which borders
Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia,
are divided. Some have chosen
to join the hardline fighters of
IS, while others are fighting the
The fall of large parts of Anbar province to IS poses a major
security risk for its neighbours.
The United States has said
the coalition includes more
than 60 countries, carrying
out various tasks, including
military attacks, humanitarian support, propaganda and
cracking down on IS finances.
Washington says Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain
have also participated in or
supported air strikes in Syria.
Australia, Britain, Canada and
France have joined US operations against IS targets in Iraq.
IS claims US
woman killed
in coalition
raid on Syria
Jordanian Foreign Minister
Nasser Judeh says the
kingdom will hit the militants
with all its might
he Islamic State group said
a coalition air strike yesterday killed an American
woman it was holding hostage in
Syria, in a claim that could not be
immediately verified.
In Jordan, meanwhile, thousands of people marched to demand retribution against IS for
murdering a captive pilot.
The militants’ claim came as
Amman said dozens of its jet
fighters had struck IS, widening their campaign from Syria to
include targets in neighbouring
Britain-based monitor the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 30
IS militants were killed in coalition raids yesterday around
Raqa, the “capital” in Syria of
the militants’ self-proclaimed
In a statement on militant
websites, IS said the woman,
whom it named as Kayla Jean
Mueller, was buried under rubble after a raid by a Jordanian
warplane in Raqa.
“The plane from the crusader
coalition bombed a position outside the city of Raqa after Friday
prayers,” it said.
“No fighter was wounded but
we can confirm that an American
hostage was killed in the strikes.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister
Nasser Judeh denounced the IS
“An old and sick trick used by
terrorists and despots for decades: claiming that hostages
human shields held captive are
killed by air raids,” Judeh tweeted.
The IS statement did not show
any pictures of a body and there
Kayla Mueller: IS hostage
was no independent confirmation of the claim.
The United States said it has
not yet seen any proof to confirm
the IS claim.
“We are obviously deeply
concerned by these reports. We
have not at this time seen any
evidence that corroborates ISIL’s
claim,” said National Security
Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, using another acronym for IS.
The US authorities have never
given figures on the number of
Americans kidnapped in Syria,
sticking to a State Department
policy of complete silence on any
citizens held hostage abroad.
spokesman Mohamad al-Momani dismissed the militants’
claim as “criminal propaganda”.
“They have lied that our pilot is alive and tried to negotiate
claiming he is alive while they
had killed him weeks before,”
Momani said.
Earlier, thousands of people
marched in Amman in solidarity with Maaz al-Kassasbeh, the
young Jordanian pilot whose
burning alive IS showed in a
video released this week.
Judeh told CNN Jordan would
hit the militants with all its
“We’re going to go after them
and we will eradicate them... We
are at the forefront. This is our
fight,” he said.
Jordan has conducted regular
air raids against IS across the
border in Syria as part of a USled campaign against the extremist group.
Asked by Fox News if Jordan
was now also targeting IS in Iraq,
he replied: “That’s right. Today,
more Syria than Iraq. It is an ongoing effort.”
He added: “They are in Iraq
and they are in Syria and therefore you have to target them
wherever they are.”
American F-16 and F-22 jets
provided cover for the Jordanian
warplanes, with additional support from refuelling tankers and
surveillance aircraft, US officials
On Thursday, King Abdullah
II and Queen Rania visited Kassasbeh’s family, which has urged
the government to “destroy” the
militants, to pay their condolences.
Last year, IS seized swathes
of territory in Syria and Iraq and
declared the caliphate in areas
under its control, imposing its
brutal interpretation of Islam
and committing widespread
Militants have flocked to Syria
since anti-government protests
broke out in 2011 and escalated
into a multi-sided civil war in
which more than 200,000 people have died.
At least 82 people, including 18 children, have been killed
by regime bombardment on a
rebel-held area near Damascus
since Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The bombardment followed
rebel rocket fire on Damascus
that killed 10 people, including
a child.
Queen Rania holds a picture of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, with the words in Arabic reading “Maaz is a martyr of righteousness”, during the march in
Amman yesterday.
Queen Rania joins Amman
march for murdered pilot
ueen Rania joined thousands of people who
turned out after midday
prayers in Jordan’s capital yesterday to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by
the Islamic State (IS) group.
Wearing a black suit and
with a red-and-white keffiyeh,
strongly associated with Jordanian tribes, draped over her
shoulders, Rania mixed with
the crowd as it marched from
the central Al-Husseini mosque
to Palm Park, about a kilometre
She held aloft a picture showing
the murdered airman and bearing
the words “Maaz the martyr of
“Today I’m just like any other Jordanian. We are united in
our horror and our grief,” the
44-year-old Kuwait-born Palestinian Rania told the BBC.
The wife of King Abdullah II
blasted IS for its brutal killing
of Maaz al-Kassasbeh who was
burned alive by the militants after
he European Union has
pledged 1bn euros in
funding for the crises
in Syria and Iraq and the fight
against the Islamic State militant group, the bloc’s foreign
policy chief Federica Mogherini said yesterday.
“This package will strengthen our actions to help restore
peace and security in a region
that is so close to us and that
has been devastated by terrorism and violence for too long,”
Mogherini said.
“The murder of Jordanian
pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh just
days ago is further proof that
terrorism has no boundaries
and that Muslims are the first
victims of Daesh,” she said,
using one of the names for the
Islamic State militant group.
The EU said in a state-
ment that it had agreed the
the “first EU comprehensive
strategy on tackling the crises in Syria and Iraq and the
threat posed by Daesh”.
“It brings together ongoing and planned initiatives of
the EU and its member states
and boosts their efficiency,
with an additional 1bn euros
in funding for the next two
years,” the statement said.
Islamist violence in France
and Belgium in recent weeks
has stoked fears in the 28-nation about the risk from its
citizens going to fight with
IS in Syria and Iraq then returning to carry out terror attacks.
“We face common challenges and common threats.
We share an interest with our
friends and partners in the
region to stand up to them in
the most effective way, and
this is what we are doing today,” Mogherini added.
port for US-led air strikes against
IS, saying the future of the Middle
East and Islam were at stake.
“Our silence is the greatest
gift” for IS, which has seized large
swathes of Iraq and Syria, she told
a media summit in Abu Dhabi.
“We are complicit in their success.”
She said the fight went beyond
the battleground and was between
moderates and extremists worldwide.
“Winning also depends on our
ability to conquer the philosophi-
cal battleground as well. Because
at the heart of this assault is an
ideology,” she said.
Yesterday, the mother of four
told the BBC that IS does not
represent Islam and “we have to
reclaim our religion from these
Last year, IS seized swathes
of territory in Syria and Iraq and
declared a “caliphate” in areas
under its control, imposing its
brutal interpretation of Islam
and committing widespread
Cleric ‘sacked for objecting to burning captive’
A Saudi cleric with the
Islamic State militant group
has been removed from his
post after objecting to the
burning alive of a captured
Jordanian pilot, a monitor
said yesterday.
The Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights said the cleric,
known by the nom-de-guerre
Abu Musab al-Jazrawi, raised
objections during a Thursday
meeting to the way pilot Maaz
al-Kassasbeh was killed.
“He raised objections during
the weekly meeting that takes
place between clerics and IS
leaders in the Aleppo area,”
said Observatory director
Rami Abdel Rahman.
“He said the way Kassasbeh
had been killed violated
religious traditions.”
Abdel Rahman said Jazrawi
was removed from his post
after the criticism, and could
also face a religious tribunal
and possible punishment.
British militant who
faked death jailed
EU pledges 1bn euro
aid for Syria and Iraq
they captured him in late December.
“Through their heinous acts
they’re hoping to frighten Jordanians, but all they did is to make
us angry and united and very determined to rid this world of this
evil,” she told the British broadcaster.
All around her marchers chanted “We are all Maaz” and “We are
all Jordan.”
Placards were also held aloft
that read: “Yes to punishment. Yes
to the eradication of terrorism.”
Rania told the BBC that the
battle against IS “is absolutely
Jordan’s war”, but she said “to
win it we need help from the
international community”.
On Thursday, the royal couple
visited Kassasbeh’s family—which
has urged the government to “destroy” the militants—to pay their
Kassasbeh was captured by IS
in December after his F-16 crashed
in Syria while on a mission for the
US-led coalition against the extremist group.
His death has sparked grief and
deep anger across Jordan.
In November, Rania urged sup-
An undated handout picture received from the Metropolitan Police
Service yesterday shows the custody photograph of British militant
Imran Khawaja.
Briton who helped an
Islamist group in Syria
record videos of severed
heads and then faked his own
death in the hope of being able
to return home undetected was
sentenced to 12 years in jail yesterday.
Imran Khawaja, 27, of Southall,
west London, travelled to a training camp in Syria in January last
year and joined Rayat al Tawheed,
which became aligned with Islamic State, prosecutors had said.
The group began posting violent propaganda online in an attempt to persuade others to come
out and join them.
“Khawaja was seen in a disturbing video posted on social
media which includes a bag of
severed heads,” a police statement
said after yesterday’s sentencing
at Woolwich Crown Court. “He
appears in the footage with his
face covered picking up one of the
heads from the bag and showing it
to the camera.”
In May 2014, the group put out
a message on social media claiming that he had been killed, alongside an image of two masked men
holding a flag associated with Islamic State.
“Khawaja ... faked his own
death in order to conceal his entry back into the UK,” said Commander Richard Walton, head
of the SO15 Counter Terrorism
But Khawaja and his cousin Tahir Bhatti were arrested last June
at the southeastern port of Dover.
“Imran Khawaja’s actions are
one of the most appalling examples of violent extremism that I
have seen committed by British
jihadis returning from Syria,” said
Deborah Walsh, Deputy Head of
Counter Terrorism at the Crown
Prosecution Service.
“Photos and videos of Khawaja posing with child soldiers
and severed heads defy the understanding of civilised people
and paint a picture of a man who
would stop at nothing to spread
terror and hatred,” she added in a
Khawaja had admitted preparing to commit terrorist acts,
receiving training in the use of
firearms and attending a place for
terrorist training.
Bhatti, 45, of Watford, north of
London, pleaded guilty to helping him and was sentenced to 21
months in jail.
Asim Ali, 33, who had admitted
providing money to Khawaja, was
also sentenced to 21 months.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Fears over abandoned orphans allayed: Unicef
lmost every child who has
lost parents to Ebola is being cared for in their community, Unicef said yesterday
– allaying fears that thousands
would be shunned by relatives
and neighbours.
The United Nations children’s
fund confirmed an estimate it
gave last week that more than
16,000 children have lost at least
one parent or main carer to the
west African epidemic.
But less than 3% have been
placed outside family or community care, according to Unicef,
which has appealed for $500mn
to help Ebola victims and prevent
fresh outbreaks as the epidemic
“Since overcoming their initial
fears and misconceptions about
Ebola, families have been showing incredible support, providing
care and protection for children
whose parents have died,” Unicef
regional director Manuel Fontaine said in a statement. “This
shows the strength of kinship ties
and the extraordinary resilience
of communities at a time of great
Unicef said that the outlook
was particularly good in Guinea,
where all 773 children who lost
both parents had been placed
with their extended families.
The outbreak has claimed almost 9,000 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, leaving a
similar number of children with
just a single parent and some
3,600 orphaned.
A further 3,800 have lost their
main carer, Unicef said.
The agency warned in September that bereaved children risked
being shunned, with the outbreak
“turning a basic human reaction
like comforting a sick child into a
potential death sentence”.
Unicef spokeswoman Sarah
Crowe said in October that the
African system of extended family and friends taking on orphans
– particularly evident during the
HIV/Aids epidemic – had “broken down” with the onset of
“The numbers kept climbing in
terms of kids who lost their parents so we needed to put in place
a strategy to provide immediate care for those kids,” Andrew
Brooks, Unicef’s regional head
of child protection for west Africa, told AFP in Dakar yesterday.
“And we were worried, it’s true.
There was a lot of concern and
the fear was very real.”
But the traditional reflex of
families taking in orphaned children had endured, he said, confounding the worst expectations
that thousands of children would
require centre-based care.
Guinea sees Ebola
infections double
he number of people sick
with Ebola fever has doubled in Guinea in the past
week following the discovery
of cases previously unknown
to health authorities, a Guinea
health official said yesterday.
About two dozen new suspected and confirmed Ebola cases
Ivorian mob kills
wrong suspect
An angry mob killed a man
wrongly suspected of kidnapping
children in Ivory Coast, which
has been gripped by panic after
a string of child murders and
mutilations, police said yesterday.
The man, Cherif Olabi, was
“violently attacked (on Thursday)
on the basis of a false rumour,”
national police spokesman
Dorgeles Gnawa told AFP. “Sadly
he died yesterday of his injuries.”
A mob went after Olabi, a
Nigerian national, in the capital
city Abidjan based on a rumour
that he was carrying a bloody
bag containing the decapitated
heads of four children.
In recent months, police have
logged at least 25 child kidnapmurders throughout the west
African nation, which prompted
authorities to urge the public not
to take justice into its own hands.
In many of the murders the
mutilated body was found, often
without its head or genitals,
raising fears of a wave of ritual
The impoverished west African
nation, which has suffered a
decade of political and military
crisis, is set to hold a presidential
vote in October.
Rumours circulate widely during
election years of kidnappings,
notably of albinos, for ritual
Murderous bus
driver arrested
Ugandan police said yesterday
that they had arrested a driver
who had tried to crash a bus into
a crocodile-infested river to kill
the 50 passengers onboard after
he was sacked.
“He hijacked the bus with
intentions of driving it into
the river and killing the 50
passengers on board,” said Denis
Namuwooza, police chief in
Uganda’s southwestern Kasese
district. “After learning of the
hijack, we mounted a road block
before the river ... we intercepted
him and he was arrested.”
The driver, who police said had
been fired for drunkenness, had
reportedly intended to drive
the heavily laden coach into
the Kazinga channel, a river
often crowded with hippos,
that connects two large lakes
in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth
national park.
S Africa’s top news
agency to close
South Africa’s main news agency
said on Thursday that it was
closing down over financial
difficulties after 76 years.
The non-governmental South
African Press Association (SAPA)
said it would cease operations on
March 31.
It was established in 1938.
were recorded in the past two
weeks, taking the total number
to 53 as of yesterday, Fode Tass
Sylla, a spokesman for Guinea’s
anti-Ebola task force, said.
Sylla saithat d the increase was
expected because health authorities were only now gaining access
to faraway villages where inhabitants had previously prevented
them from entering.
The new cases highlights difficulties authorities in the three
worst-hit West African states –
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia
– face in trying to curb the spread
of the epidemic that has killed
nearly 9,000 people.
Thought to be declining at
the start of 2015, the number of
new Ebola cases rose in all three
countries for the first time this
year in the past week, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) said
on Thursday.
Some 36 villages in the south
and western forest region of
Guinea, where the first case of
Ebola was recorded, had previously been inaccessible to
health officials because villagers
sometimes used violence to stop
health workers.
“Even in Conakry (Guinea’s
coastal capital), there are some
neighbourhoods such as Ratoma
where we had the same kind of
situation,” Sylla said.
On January 10 Guinea’s gov-
ernment set a 60-day target to
completely eradicate the disease
in the nation, a gold, iron ore
and bauxite producer but where
nearly 60% of the population live
below the poverty line.
However, there are doubts this
could be achieved due to high
levels of mistrust of health authorities, the practice of traditional rituals such as burials, and
general misinformation about
the disease.
Free, not free
Women from the Masakhane settlement fill their wheelbarrows with free coal provided by a nearby mine in Emalahleni, South
Africa. The Masakhane settlement, mainly consisting of migrant workers who converged to the coal rich Witbank region to search
for job opportunities, has no access to the electricity grid, despite being only 2km from the Duvha power station belonging to the
embattled South African sole energy provider Eskom, and despite being criss-crossed by high tension power lines.
ICC separates Uganda
LRA war crimes trial
The Hague
he International Criminal Court (ICC) has separated the war crimes
trial of notorious former Lord’s
Resistance Army (LRA) commander Daniel Ongwen from
those of his fellow accused because they have not yet been
ICC pre-trial judge Ekaterina Trendafilova “severed
proceedings against Dominic
Ongwen” in the case that also
included LRA leader Joseph
Kony, the Hague-based ICC
said in a statement.
“As the three other suspects
in the case have not appeared
or have not been apprehended
yet,” the case was split “so as
not to delay the pre-trial proceedings against Mr Ongwen”,
it said.
Ongwen, a child-soldierturned-warlord in Uganda’s
brutal LRA rebel army appeared before the ICC for the
first time 10 days ago, charged
with war crimes and crimes
against humanity.
The LRA is accused of killing
more than 100,000 people and
abducting 60,000 children in
a bloody rebellion in northern
Uganda that started in 1987.
His commander Kony, as
well as two other senior commanders, Vincent Otti and
Okot Odhiambo, are still being
wanted by the court for similar
Unconfirmed reports in the
past have stated that both Otti
and Odhiambo may be dead.
Last week Kampala said it
was conducting DNA tests to
determine whether a body recently discovered in a grave
was that of Odhiambo.
Odhiambo is widely suspected to have directed the
killing of some 300 civilians
during a February 2004 attack
on the Barlonyo internally displaced persons camp in northern Uganda, one of the single
largest massacres in the LRA’s
brutal history.
Ongwen was transferred to
the ICC in January following
his surprise surrender to US
soldiers who have been helping Uganda to track down the
So far there has been no sign
of Kony, the LRA’s most wanted fugitive.
The LRA first emerged in
northern Uganda in 1986,
where it claimed to fight in
the name of the Acholi ethnic
group against the government.
Unicef said 2,960 children had
been infected in the three hardest-hit countries since Ebola
broke out in the forests of southern Guinea in December 2013,
and 58% had died.
Although there has been a decline in Ebola infections in recent
months, the weekly toll of new
confirmed cases rose in the last
week of January, marking the
first hike in 2015, according to
the World Health Organisation
OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian affairs office, has warned
the international community to
not be complacent over what it
describes as “the most difficult
phase” in the fight to eliminate
the virus.
“I was told repeatedly by partners that the last mile in the fight
against Ebola will be the hardest,” OCHA director of operations John Ging said on Thursday after a week-long visit to
Ebola-affected countries. “While
remarkable progress has been
made, we must not forget that it
only takes one new case to start a
new outbreak.”
Nightmare doesn’t
end with recovery
eople who survive Ebola
continue to suffer from
serious physical and psychological ailments and require
care long after the deadly virus
has left their bodies, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) said
Nearly 9,000 people have died
from Ebola since the west Africa-centred outbreak began 13
months ago, but many thousands
more have survived the virus and
are facing the aftermath.
“There’s a huge need for ongoing care for people who’ve recovered from Ebola,” WHO technical
advisory Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva.
Survivors suffer a wide range
of symptoms, including muscle
and joint pains, including chronical arthritis, and sight loss, she
In addition, they are often
traumatised by their experience
and face a variety of psychological problems.
“It’s becoming clear that the
disease doesn’t just end in the
acute phase,” Harris said.
The UN health agency convened an international meeting
of experts last week to discuss
needed revisions to Ebola treatment guidelines.
The experts, including clinicians working with Ebola patients in Guinea, Liberia and
Sierra Leone at the epicentre of
the outbreak, had agreed that far
more attention needed to be paid
to survivors of the virus, Harris
“There’s a need to have such
people on registries so they can
be followed up,” she said.
It was especially important to
follow up children who had been
infected with Ebola, she said,
pointing out that it remained
unclear “what the psychological effects of what they’ve been
through are (and) if this will have
any effect on their neurological
development and other development”.
The experts also recommend-
ed a range of other changes in the
way Ebola patients are treated
and managed.
They found that young children and pregnant women, who
have had very high fatality rates
in the epidemic, required special
Around 90% of children under the age of one who have contracted Ebola have died, Harris
said, pointing out that there was
some indication that “simply being separated and isolated ... had
a devastating psychological effect on children”.
Caretakers fearful of contracting Ebola may also not provide
them with the assistance they
need to eat and drink, or weigh
them to estimate the correct
amounts of medication and intravenous liquids to administer.
“The standard methods are
not ideal,” she said.
Pregnant women too have a
high fatality rate, although Harris said at least 21 were known to
have survived.
But their foetuses rarely live,
since “the amniotic fluid is
an immunological sanctuary”
where Ebola can remain and amplify even after the mother has
fully recovered.
This means “the delivery is an
enormous risk” for everyone involved, Harris said.
She said some of the Liberian experts had proposed using
caesarians to help control the
healthcare workers’ exposure to
the mother’s highly infectious
body fluids.
Otherwise, the experts found
that the quality of care could
dramatically improve an Ebola
patient’s chances of survival,
pushing fatality rates down as
low as 25%.
Fluid intake was especially important, Harris said, adding that
ideally intravenous fluid replacement should be given early on.
Such therapy is much more
effective when salts and electrolytes in the blood are monitored
to spot any metabolic problems,
she added, pointing out that
“where people can correct those,
people have a better chance of
After Chad, Boko Haram attacks Niger base
slamist militant group Boko
Haram attacked a military
base in eastern Niger, expanding its reign of terror across
the region, witnesses told DPA
It is the first time the Nigeriabased insurgents launched an
assault in Niger, after infiltrating northern Cameroon for the
past few months, killing dozens
of people.
Boko Haram clashed with soldiers yesterday morning in Bosso, a town that borders neighbouring Nigeria.
A casualty figure could not be
The fighting took place in
the southeastern region of
Diffa, part of the border area
where Chad has sent hundreds
of troops to help Niger take on
Boko Haram, military sources
“The Boko Haram attack
from Malam Fatori (in Nigeria)
against the town of Bosso and
the bridge at Doutchi in the Diffa region has been repulsed. We
have Chadian planes bombarding the locality,” said a Niger
military source.
A second source said: “There
is heavy weapons fire from both
sides .... we have at least five injured in our ranks.”
Later a military source said
the attack had failed, calm had
returned and there was no hot
pursuit operation into Nigeria.
The attack comes a day after
Boko Haram killed 31 Muslims
in northern Cameroon, when it
burnt three mosques in the town
of Fotokol, also near the Nigerian border.
Insurgents on Wednesday
killed 82 civilians in Fotokol, as
well as six Cameroonian and 13
Chadian soldiers.
Boko Haram descended on
Fotokol town in apparent retaliation for the deaths of at least
200 of their members killed this
week by Chadian and Nigerian
Nigerian and Chadian aircraft
have been bombing Boko Haram
hideouts since Monday.
About 2,000 Chadian soldiers
were stationed this week along
the Nigeria-Cameroon border
after the African Union agreed
on January 31 to send 7,500
troops to fight Boko Haram.
Boko Haram has killed more
than 13,000 people since 2009
in northern Nigeria under the
pretext of trying to establish an
Islamist state.
The insurgents control about
130 villages and towns in northern Nigeria, a territory the size
of Belgium, and have sparked
fears of regional instability.
The insurgency is the worst
threat to Nigeria’s security as
the nation, Africa’s top oil producer and biggest economy,
heads to a presidential election
on February 14.
The militants are also increasingly threatening neighbouring
Chad, Niger and Cameroon,
prompting regional leaders to
come up with a joint plan to defeat them.
Decision on Nigeria vote delay today: official
igeria’s election commission will announce
today whether it will
postpone national polls set for
February 14, a spokesman said.
The chairman of the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC), Attahiru
Jega, met Nigeria’s powerful
Council of States on Thursday
to discuss the country’s readiness for the vote.
Concerns have centred on
struggles to distribute voter
identity cards to 68.8mn registered voters as well as unrest in
the northeast, where hundreds
of thousands face disenfran-
chisement because of Boko Haram violence.
Following Thursday’s meeting, “the Commission has
scheduled a consultative meeting with chairmen and secretaries of all registered political parties, as well as a meeting with
(regional election chiefs today),”
INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu
said in a statement. “Thereafter,
the Commission will address a
press conference to brief the nation on its decision with regard
to whether or not the general
elections will hold as currently
The closed-door Council of
States meeting – attended by
past presidents, state governors,
security chiefs and the INEC –
lasted more than seven hours.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Top court says Canadians have the right to die
he Supreme Court of
Canada overturned a ban
suicide, unanimously reversing
a decision it made in 1993 and
putting Canada in the company
of a handful of Western countries
to make it legal.
The top court said that mentally competent, consenting
adults who have intolerable
physical or psychological suffering from a severe and incurable
medical condition have the right
to a doctor’s help to die.
US states
New York
everal US states are investigating a massive cyberattack on No. 2 US health
insurer Anthem Incorporated
that a person familiar with the
matter said is being examined for
possible ties to China.
Anthem disclosed the attack
late on Wednesday, saying that
unknown hackers had penetrated a database with some 80mn
records. The insurer said it suspected they had stolen information belonging to tens of millions
of current and former customers
as well as employees.
Attorneys-general of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arkansas and North Carolina are looking into the breach,
according to representatives of
their offices and internal documents.
California’s Department of
Insurance said it will review Anthem’s response to the attack.
Connecticut Attorney-General George Jepsen asked Anthem chief executive Joseph
Swedish to provide by March 4
detailed information about the
cyber-attack, the company’s
security practices and privacy
policies, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
“We hope and expect to work
in close co-ordination with
other attorneys-general,” said
Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen.
A source familiar with the
probe told Reuters that a possible connection to China was
being investigated, and the Wall
Street Journal reported that people close to the investigation say
some tools and techniques used
against Anthem were similar to
ones used in previous attacks
linked to China.
Late on Wednesday, the FBI
said that it was looking into the
The illness does not have to be
terminal. The decision takes effect in 12 months.
“We do not agree that the existential formulation of the right
to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or
that individuals cannot ‘waive’
their right to life,” the court said.
Yesterday’s decision related
to the case of two women with
debilitating illnesses who have
since died.
Gloria Taylor, who had a neuro-degenerative disease, joined
the “right to die” lawsuit in 2011
and died of her illness in 2012.
The family of a second woman, Kay Carter, who travelled to
Switzerland to end her life, was
also a plaintiff.
Assisted suicide is legal in
Switzerland, along with Belgium,
Luxembourg and the Netherlands and the US states of Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Canada’s Supreme Court,
which last considered assisted
suicide in 1993, agreed last year
to take another look at the issue.
The court majority was a narrow 5-4 in 1993. The sole judge
left on the court from that time
is Beverley McLachlin, now chief
justice, and she was in the dissent
last time.
“This is one incredible day,”
said Grace Pastine, litigation di-
rector of BC Civil Liberties Association, which initiated the challenge. “Physician-assisted dying
is now recognised for what it is:
a medical service that brings an
end, for some individuals, to unbearable suffering.”
Parliament can overturn the
court’s ruling, using a rarely used
constitutional clause, but that is
an unlikely outcome.
The Canadian government
said it would study the decision
and gave no indication on whether it would oppose it.
Canadian parliamentarians,
heading into a federal election in
October, will have a year to implement a regulatory framework.
he number of women and
girls in the United States
at risk of female genital
mutilation (FGM) has more than
doubled since 2000 to half a million, say demographic researchers who expect that figure to rise
even further.
The report, released on International Day of Zero Tolerance
for Female Genital Mutilation
(FGM) yesterday, said that the
main cause of the rapid growth
was a doubling of immigration to
the United States between 2000
and 2013 from African countries
where the tradition is prevalent.
“We put out these numbers so
decisions can be made by policy
makers in this country,” said
Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, an
author of the report and director
of the gender programme at the
nonprofit Population Reference
Bureau (PRB). “In order to know
where these girls and women are
and how many, this data is critical.”
FGM, which involves the par-
spoke from a wheelchair in the
Supreme Court foyer. “There’s
an assumption that your life is
unbearable and there’s nothing
good in it.”
Others, such as quadriplegic
Conservative Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher, argued
that they should have the choice.
“There does need to be some
criminal code provision, I think,
to prevent abuse. I don’t want
people, because they have a bad
hair day, to get their car mechanic
to take them down,” Fletcher said
in the lobby of the court yesterday. “We want to make sure that
we move forward quickly, but
thoughtfully, and the Supreme
Court has given us a clear path.”
It is too early to know if Canada will become a suicide tourism
destination, like Switzerland,
said Right to Die Society of Canada president Ruth von Fuchs.
It was not immediately clear
whether Canadian law will allow
the practice for non-residents.
Allowance for those suffering
unbearable psychological pain is
not unique, von Fuchs said.
It was included in a bill passed
last summer by the Canadian
province of Quebec, for example,
and Switzerland allows assisted
suicide for people suffering debilitating mental illness, though
it is uncommon.
Defence, partners at US
security strategy’s core
new US national security
strategy, released yesterday by the White House,
calls for the US to continue to
lead in the fight against global
terrorism, but also emphasises that it doesn’t want to go it
“America leads from a position of strength. But this does
not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory
of all unfolding events around
the world,” US President Barack
Obama said in a statement accompanying the document.
The sweeping strategy is the
first released by Obama since
The former policy took a step
away from a more militaristic
strategy put forth by former
president George W Bush and
emphasised a pivot toward diplomacy, partnerships and the
projection of US values.
The new strategy covers everything from the need to reinforce domestic security to the
need to combat the “persistent”
threat of terrorism elsewhere in
the world.
It also emphasises the need to
prevent the spread of weapons of
mass destruction and confront
climate change.
The US embraces its responsibilities in support of international security because it serves
US interests, upholds its commitments to allies and addresses
global threats, according to the
“Fulfilling our responsibilities
depends on a strong defence and
secure homeland,” the 29-page
report says.
The report adds: “It also requires a global security posture
in which our unique capabili-
ties are employed within diverse
international coalitions and in
support of local partners.”
The strategy says that the US
will train and equip local partners and provide operational
support to gain ground against
terrorist groups.
Among other pledges made,
the United States says that while
its military will be smaller after
drawing down deployments in
Iraq and Afghanistan, “it must
remain dominant in every domain”.
It says that there is no substitute for US leadership “whether
in the face of aggression, in the
cause of universal values, or
in the service of a more secure
In addition, it stresses that all
US security efforts aim to contrast starkly with “the heinous
deeds of terrorists” and it rejects
the “lie” that the United States
and its allies are at war with Islam.
But it also vows that the US
will not hesitate to take decisive
action when there is an imminent threat and there is no feasible way to stop it.
US Secretary of Defence
Chuck Hagel said that the strategy provides a comprehensive
blueprint for defending and advancing US interests at home
and around the world.
“It is clear-eyed about our nation’s challenges as well as our
strategic opportunities,” he said.
He said the strategy “wisely calls for drawing on all the
sources of our national power”
– from the resilience of the US
economy to its diplomacy, military and values – “to strengthen
and sustain America’s global
National Security Adviser Susan Rice was scheduled to speak
about the strategy later in the
New York train wasn’t
speeding before crash
Tarrytown, New York
This picture taken on Wednesday shows workers preparing for a crane to lift a burnt SUV from the front
of a Metro-North Commuter Train after both collided the day before in Valhalla, New York.
Research finds US women at risk of
FGM more than double since 2000
New York
The government can also do
nothing and simply allow the
court ruling to come into effect in
12 months’ time.
Parliament has previously
rejected several attempts to legalise physician-assisted suicide through bills brought by its
Religious groups and organisations representing disabled people had opposed any relaxation of
the ban, arguing that this would
make them vulnerable.
“This ruling has made it clear
that people with disabilities are
being targeted and invited to
end their lives,” said Taylor Hyatt, who has cerebral palsy and
tial or complete removal of the
external genitalia, is considered
a necessary pre-marriage ritual
for girls in many countries, but
it can cause lasting physical and
psychological damage and even
The practice is most common
in Africa and the Middle East,
though most African countries
where FGM is found have banned
the practice.
PRB’s findings come at a time
of heightened awareness and
concern about FGM in the United
States, which banned the practice in 1996 and passed a law in
2012 making it illegal to transport
a girl out of the United States for
the purpose of FGM.
On Thursday, US Representative Joe Crowley of New York and
US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, both Democrats, introduced the Zero Tolerance for FGM Act of 2015, which
would charge the federal government with drafting and implementing a national strategy to
protect girls in the United States
from FGM.
About 55% of the 506,795
women and girls in the United
States at risk of FGM in 2013 were
either born in Egypt, Ethiopia or
Somalia, or born to parents from
those countries, the researchers
In those countries, the vast
majority of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 undergo FGM: 91% in Egypt, 74%
in Ethiopia, and 98% in Somalia.
Other women and girls in the
United States at risk of FGM were
from or had familial ties to Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea, and Guinea.
“We applied country prevalence rates to the number of US
women and girls with ties to
those countries to estimate risk,”
said Mark Mather, a demographer at PRB who co-authored
the report.
Overall, about 97% of US
women and girls at risk of FGM
were from or had ties to African
countries, while 3% were from
The US state with the most
women and girls at risk was California, followed by New York,
Minnesota, Texas, Maryland,
New Jersey, Virginia and Washington.
Those eight states are home to
about 60% of the total number
of women and girls at risk in the
The women and girls at risk
typically live in or around large
cities, with about 40% of them
living in the New York, Washington, DC, Minneapolis-St Paul,
Los Angeles, and Seattle metropolitan areas.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention plan to issue
a report on FGM in the United
States in coming weeks with
conclusions similar to those from
“Having a better idea of the
magnitude of FGM here will
mean that we have a much
stronger argument in terms of
changing policy and allocating
resources,” said Shelby Quast,
policy director at Equality Now,
an NGO dedicated to the protection and promotion of the human
rights of women and girls globally.
More than 130mn girls and
women in Africa and the Middle
East have experienced some form
of FGM, according to 2014 data
from Unicef.
he New York commuter
train that ploughed into
a car stopped on a crossing this week was traveling just
below the speed limit and no
problem was found with the
signals or traffic barriers at the
site of the deadly crash, a federal
investigator said on Thursday.
But preliminary data released
after the first full day of the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB)’s investigation
did not clear up the central
mystery of the fatal accident:
why did a Mercedes sports utility vehicle end up on the wrong
side of the crossing barrier as
the Metro-North train approached?
The fiery crash that followed killed the driver of the
SUV and five train passengers
in the deadliest rail accident in
the New York area in more than
three decades.
It was the latest in a string of
accidents to unnerve commuters on the country’s secondlargest commuter railroad.
The driver of the vehicle behind the Mercedes told NTSB
investigators on Thursday that
traffic was “edging along” at
the railway crossing in Valhalla,
an affluent town north of New
York City, Robert Sumwalt, an
NTSB member, said.
The Mercedes came to a stop
on the crossing, Sumwalt said.
The barrier descended on its
rear window.
The crossing warning lights
began flashing and sirens started to ring out, and the driver
behind her described reversing to make room for her to retreat, gesturing with his hands,
Sumwalt said.
Instead, the witness watched
as Ellen Brody, a 49-year-old
mother of three who worked in
a local jewellery shop, got out
of the Mercedes and inspected
the barrier without moving it
before getting back into the
driver’s seat.
“Then she sat in the vehicle,”
Sumwalt said. “He described it
as if she had enough time to put
on her seatbelt.”
Investigators also interviewed the engineer on Thursday who was driving the crowded rush-hour train. He told
them that he spotted the Mercedes ahead of him, Sumwalt
Data from a train recording
device showed it was traveling
at 58mph, just below the speed
limit of 60mph, and had sounded its horn in the usual way as it
approached the crossing: two
long blasts, a short one, two
more long ones.
The engineer deployed the
train’s emergency brake, and
the train’s horn blew again for
four seconds.
Meanwhile, the driver behind
the Mercedes watched as Brody “suddenly pulled forward”,
Sumwalt said.
“As she did so, the train
struck the car,” Sumwalt said.
The train, pushing the Mercedes down the track, took
nearly 30 seconds and 950 feet
before coming to a stop after the
emergency brake was activated,
Long pieces of electrified
“third” rail skewered the Mercedes and pierced the first two
train carriages as a gasolinefueled fire erupted. Passengers
riding the train’s rear remained
oblivious to the carnage unfolding ahead of them.
Sumwalt said his team were
seeking Brody’s records and
trying to figure out how familiar
she was with the route and her
On Thursday, people commuting to work on MetroNorth said that the crash made
them think more about safety.
“Did I think deep down
whether I should be sitting in
the first car? I thought about
it,” said Alan Trager, 65, chief
executive officer of a non-profit
agency, as he rode the same
train line out of Grand Central
“I go, ‘Oh, I should have paid
attention to the emergency
windows’,” he said as he sat in
the second carriage of the train.
“It’s enhanced my consciousness of that.”
About 250 people a year are
killed in vehicle-train collisions
at US crossings, according to
the Federal Railroad Administration.
Harvard bans sex in new policy
New York
arvard, one of America’s most prestigious
universities, has told
professors not to have sex with
students following a review into
sexual harassment policy.
Harvard University’s Faculty
of Arts and Sciences Committee
said that it was prohibiting “romantic or sexual relationships”
regardless of whether a faculty
member was teaching or supervising the student in question.
The ban applies to undergraduate and graduate students,
and has been ushered in as part
of a review of policy on sexual
The review “determined that
the existing language on relationships of unequal status
did not explicitly reflect the
faculty’s expectations of what
constituted an appropriate relationship”.
It comes at a time when top
American universities on the
defensive over complaints of
sexual violence on campus.
Last May, the US department
of education published a list of
55 colleges and universities under federal review for allegedly
mishandling sexual assault and
harassment complaints.
Harvard, in the northeastern US state of Massachusetts,
was on the list. The university’s
historic rival, Yale, prohibited
sexual relations between faculty
and undergraduates in 2010.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Perfect pose
Thailand boosts
military ties with
China amid US spat
A woman poses for souvenir photos alongside peach blossom flowers at a field in Hanoi yesterday. The peach blossom, believed to bring luck to families, is used to decorate
homes during the Vietnamese “Tet” (Lunar New Year festival), which will take place from February 14-24.
Australia ‘not giving up
on pair on death row’
ustralia will continue to
plead for the lives of two
men on death row in Indonesia, Foreign Minister Julie
Bishop said yesterday, vowing
not to give up hope that their
executions could be stayed.
Lawyers for Andrew Chan
and Myuran Sukumaran, who
face death by firing squad,
have admitted the outlook is
bleak after they lost a legal bid
to have their cases reviewed on
“We are continuing to make
representations at the highest
level,” Bishop told reporters.
“We are continuing to ask for
people who have influence and
contacts within the Indonesian
government to make contact
now and to make those representations.”
Chan and Sukumaran, both
in their early 30s, were arrested
in 2005 on the holiday island of
Bali and sentenced to death the
following year for attempting
to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
The pair, considered the
ringleaders of the so-called
“Bali Nine” drug smuggling
gang who were all arrested in
Indonesia, argue they have rehabilitated themselves in their
decade in prison and begged
for their sentences to be commuted.
But Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with
the planned executions, which
a foreign ministry spokesman
said would be carried out this
month, without giving an exact
Jakarta informed the Australian embassy on Thursday that
“the execution of the two Australians, whose clemency was
rejected, will be conducted in
February,” ministry spokesman
Arrmanatha Nasir said.
Indonesian officials have said
they plan to execute the Australians, as well as several other
foreigners on death row, on Nusakambangan Island, which is
off the main island of Java and
home to a high-security prison.
Jakarta last month executed
six drug offenders, including
five foreigners, with President
Joko Widodo a vocal supporter
Protests threatened over
Rohingya vote change
ationalist monks and
some political leaders in
Myanmar have threatened to hold mass rallies to protest a parliamentary decision
giving the Rohingya ethnic minority voting rights in a referendum to amend the constitution.
Most of Myanmar’s 1.1mn Rohingya Muslims live in apartheidlike conditions in Rakhine state
in the west of the predominantly
Buddhist country. Many in Myanmar consider them illegal immigrants even though they have
lived in the area for generations.
Few Rohingya are full citizens,
but most hold temporary national identification cards known
as white cards. They were able to
vote in a 2008 referendum to approve Myanmar’s military-drafted constitution, as well as in elections in 2010.
Parliament on Feb. 2 approved a
referendum law that allows white
card holders to take part in a future referendum on amendments
to the constitution.
Many say the constitution
needs reform, because it reserves
substantial power for the military
and bars Nobel Laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi from the presidency,
among other contentious clauses.
While members of ethnic minorities including those of Indian
and Chinese descent also hold
white cards, about two thirds are
Rohingya, according to the government.
The constitutional referendum
has yet to be scheduled, but parliament’s decision also strengthens the chances that white card
holders will be able to cast ballots
in general elections later this year.
The prospect of the Rohingya being allowed to vote has
alarmed nationalist monks and
politicians who have threatened
to hold mass protests next week
to pressure parliament to reverse
its decision.
of capital punishment for drug
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
said Thursday his government
had “left no stone unturned” in
the bid to save the pair.
“We oppose the death penalty, we do whatever we humanly can to try to ensure that
no Australian suffers the death
penalty,” he told reporters.
Bishop said she had spoken
to her Indonesian counterpart
repeatedly on the issue and Jakarta was in no doubt about
Australia’s objection to the
death penalty.
“I respect the Indonesian legal system, I understand that
drug trafficking attracts the
death penalty in Indonesia and
I have respect for their judicial
system,” she said. “But Australian citizens are on death row
and will be executed by another
government unless we can seek
a stay. That’s what I’m determined to do.”
Bishop said representations
to the Indonesian government
would continue.
“So we don’t give up hope.
We persist, we continue to persist,” she said.
hina and Thailand
agreed yesterday to
boost military ties
over the next five years, from
increasing intelligence sharing to fighting transnational
crime, as the ruling junta
seeks to counterbalance the
country’s alliance with Washington.
The agreement came during a two-day visit by China’s
Defence Minister Chang Wanquan to Bangkok, and as Thailand’s military government
looks to cultivate Beijing’s
support amid Western unease
over a delayed return to democracy.
“China has agreed to help
Thailand increase protection
of its own country and advise on technology to increase
Thailand’s national security,”
Thai Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan told
“China will not intervene
in Thailand’s politics but will
give political support and help
maintain relationships at all
levels. This is China’s policy.”
Under the junta, Thailand
has stepped up engagement
with China at a time when
Beijing increases its influence
in Southeast Asia with a raft
of loans and aid for infrastructure.
At the same time, Washington has sought to show its
renewed commitment to a
strategic “pivot” toward Asia
by boosting military ties and
Myanmar claims student
rallies are manipulated
Raji Sukumaran (right), the mother of Australian death row inmate Myuran
Sukumaran, arrives at Kerobokan Prison to visit her son in Denpasar, Bali.
equipment sales across the region. Prawit said Thailand and
China agreed to increase joint
military exercises, but did not
give further details.
“We agreed to increase joint
military exercises between
Thailand’s air force and China’s air force and to increase
overall military cooperation
over the next three to five
years,” he said.
Thailand’s army took control last May saying it needed
to restore order after months
of political unrest including
street protests in Bangkok
that killed nearly 30 people.
The US, a long-time ally of
Thailand, expressed dismay
at the coup and froze $4.7mn
of security-related assistance and cancelled some security cooperation.
US-Thai relations deteriorated further last month
Washington of meddling in
its political affairs over the
remarks by a visiting US envoy who criticised the junta.
The junta has said it will
hold onto power for at least
another year, with a general
election planned for early
Despite the tensions, the
US will hold its annual Cobra Gold combined military
exercise with Thailand next
week. The drill, however, has
been scaled down in scope to
humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief.
The drill, the Asia-Pacific’s largest annual multinational military exercise, also
involves China.
said political forces
were manipulating
education reform protests to
“create unrest”, amid increasing unease over rallies across
the country, a claim rejected
by activists.
The information ministry,
in a nod to the former juntaruled nation’s often bloody
history of student activism
and military crackdowns, said
previous bouts of violence had
“tarnished the country’s image in the past”.
“Some political organisations, so-called students and
those masterminding the rallies are using the students
with the excuse of education
to create unrest,” it said in a
Myanmar language statement
published in the state-controlled Mirror newspaper.
Hundreds of students and
supporters are marching towards the commercial hub
Yangon from the central city
of Mandalay to call for reforms
to an education bill that they
claim is undemocratic.
The students have pressed
on with their rally, despite
warnings from authorities and
meeting several police blocks
on their route.
Demonstrators rejected the
suggestion that they were being manipulated for political
means. “The student leaders
say that there is no one behind
them but the people,” one veteran activist marching with
the protesters said on condition of anonymity.
Protests, which began in
November on the heels of US
President Barack Obama’s visit
to the country, flared again in
January after students said the
government had failed to meet
their deadline for talks in reforming the education system.
Student activism is a potent
political force in Myanmar,
with young campaigners at the
forefront of several major uprisings, including a mass 1988
demonstration that ended in
a bloody military assault on
Malaysia, Indonesia to seek resolution of sea disputes
he leaders of Malaysia
and Indonesia yesterday
pledged renewed efforts
to resolve stubborn disputes
over maritime borders that have
long nagged at one of Southeast
Asia’s most important bilateral
Malaysian Prime Minister
Najib Razak and visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo
held talks yesterday morning
and later told a joint press briefing they agreed to set up a new
mechanism for resolving territorial issues.
Najib said the effort was necessary because years of negotiations had seen “no significant
Widodo added that maritime
disputes had “lingered for too
The tension has centred on
competing claims to potentially energy-rich seabeds in
the Celebes Sea off the eastern coast of the vast island of
Borneo, which the two nations
share along with Brunei.
But they also have disputed
maritime borders in other spots,
and Indonesia has lately sought
to crack down on illegal fishing
in its waters, using explosives
to destroy and sink a number of
seized foreign fishing vessels,
including from Malaysia.
Najib said each side would
appoint special envoys “to lead
exploratory talks and to find a
formula that is acceptable to
the governments and peoples of
both nations.”
Widodo’s two-day stay is his
first official bilateral trip abroad
since taking office late last year
and the choice of Malaysia appeared to underline the mutually-held importance of steady
relations between two countries
that sprawl across vital Southeast Asian sea lanes.
Another perennial bone of
contention has been recurring
reports of poor treatment of the
hundreds of thousands of Indonesian maids and other workers, and the frictions surfaced
again just before Widodo’s ar-
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib
Razak talk to each other prior to their meeting at the prime minister’s
office in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
rival. Indonesia’s embassy in
Kuala Lumpur said it had formally protested this week over
an advertisement by a Malaysian distributor of automatic
vacuum cleaners that said users
of the product can “Fire your
Indonesian maid now!”
The company’s website also
was defaced, apparently by In-
donesian hackers who posted a
message on the page decrying
the ad and calling for respect for
their compatriots in Malaysia.
Najib and Widodo mentioned the labour issue only
in passing, saying they agreed
should only come to Malaysia
via official recruitment chan-
nels to ensure their safety.
Over the years, relatively affluent Malaysia has attracted
millions of migrant workers
—both legal and illegal — from
Indonesia, including large
numbers of domestic workers.
An estimated 400,000 foreign maids are now employed
in Malaysia, the vast majority of
them Indonesian women.
But reports of physical and
other abuse by Malaysian employers or recruiters have repeatedly sparked anger in Indonesia.
Later yesterday, Widodo visited a factory run by Malaysian
national car manufacturer Proton, where a memorandum was
signed on exploring possibilities for Proton’s involvement in
developing an Indonesian national car brand.
Southeast Asia’s car market is steadily growing, but it is
unclear how successful such a
project would be.
Proton is undergoing restructuring after years of losses and
an inability to compete with
global brands.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Beijing denounces internal
affairs interference
Foreign ministers of three
nations to meet next month
Japanese firms face
wake-up call on threats
Crackdown planned on
casinos seeking gamblers
Survivors of bushfire get
$235mn in huge class action
China is opposed to foreign countries receiving the
Dalai Lama, a government spokesman said yesterday,
the day after US President Barack Obama held a
symbolic first public encounter with the exiled Tibetan
spiritual leader. “We are against foreign countries
interfering in China’s domestic affairs under the pretext
of Tibet-related issues,” Chinese foreign ministry
spokesman Hong Lei told reporters. “The Dalai Lama
is seeking support from foreign countries to realise his
political end, but he cannot succeed,” Hong said, calling
the spiritual leader “a political exile who has long been
engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the
pretext of religion”.
The foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea appear set to meet next month for the first time
in three years in the latest sign of easing tensions
in East Asia, reports said yesterday. If the gathering
goes ahead, it will be the first trilateral at such a
high level since April 2012 — before Sino-Japanese
ties nose-dived over a lingering territorial dispute.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his
counterpart Wang Yi of China and Yun Byung-se of
South Korea will meet in Seoul in late March. South
Korea’s Yonhap carried a similar report. Any such
meeting of foreign ministers could pave the way for
a three-way summit, last held in May 2012.
Japanese companies with overseas operations
are showing greater interest in seeking advice
on security and other threats, after the Islamic
State militants killed two citizens of Japan, a risk
management specialist said. Japan has long been
an investor in countries in the Middle East, but has
rarely been targeted by extremists in the region.
That may change as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
pushes for a more muscular stance overseas and
Islamic State militants pledged to target Japan after
Abe announced $200mn in non-military aid for
countries contending with the militants, who control
large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
China will fight attempts by foreign casinos to lure
its citizens abroad, a senior police official said yesterday, which could deal a blow to the gaming firms
in Macau and Asian countries that rely on these
punters for most of their revenue. Chinese, among
the world’s most prolific gamblers, often travel to the
Chinese territory of Macau, South Korea, the Philippines or Australia, as gambling is illegal in mainland
China, except for heavily regulated state-sanctioned
lotteries Hua Jingfeng, a deputy bureau chief at
the Ministry of Public Security, said illegal gambling
remained a problem even though the government
was “forcefully keeping it in check”.
Survivors of one of Australia’s deadliest wildfires
won compensation of A$300mn ($235mn) in a
pre-trial settlement yesterday, bringing to a close
the country’s costliest series of class action lawsuits.
Australia’s worst natural disaster saw 173 people
killed and thousands of homes destroyed when a
series of fires ripped through rural Victoria state on
Feb 7, 2009. Last year, a court ordered energy firm
AusNet Services , maintenance contractor Utility
Services Corp Ltd and the state to pay A$494mn for
faulty infrastructure alleged to have caused one of
the so-called “Black Saturday” fires which killed 119
people, the country’s biggest class action payment.
Selfie with a sheep!
Australia PM
set to fight
party vote in
ousting bid
A woman takes a selfie with a sheep at a sheep cafe in Seoul yesterday. A growing number of visitors including foreign tourists are
coming to the cafe to enjoy the upcoming Year of the Sheep, according to the cafe’s owner. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19
will welcome the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram).
Boy, 9, detained after mall
fire in China kills 17: police
nine-year-old boy has
been detained after a
shopping mall inferno
that killed 17 people in China,
police said yesterday, the latest deadly accident in a country
where safety standards are often
The fire broke out Thursday
on the top floor of a four-storey building in Huidong, in the
city of Huizhou in the southern
province of Guangdong, the local government said.
Rescue efforts took 18 hours
and 17 people died, the Huidong
government said on its verified
A firefighter looks on after a fire was put out at a wholesale market
building in Huidong county, Guangdong province yesterday.
account on China’s Twitter-like
Sina Weibo.
Huizhou police said on its
Weibo account that “the fire was
caused by a boy playing with
fire at the mall,” adding that the
nine-year-old suspect had been
fiddling with a “lighter”.
A total of 270 firefighters and
45 fire engines were mobilised
to extinguish the blaze, it added.
The fire broke out in a warehouse
facility, reports said.
China has a dismal industrial
safety record as some property
and business owners evade regulations to save money and pay
off corrupt officials to look the
other way.
A fire at a poultry plant in the
northeast of the country killed
119 people in 2013.
Reports at the time said that
managers had locked doors inside the factory to prevent workers from going to the toilet, leading to the high death toll.
arty critics of Australian
Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched a dramatic
bid yesterday to unseat the unpopular conservative leader after less than 18 months in office,
but he vowed to fight on.
The move comes after Abbott’s much-ridiculed decision to award Britain’s Prince
Philip a knighthood sparked two
weeks of turmoil in his Liberal
Party, exposing discontent over
months of policy failings and
plunging poll figures.
“I think we must bring this to
a head and test the support of
the leadership,” West Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins
said in an email to colleagues
announcing he will initiate a
“The reality is people have
stopped listening to the prime
minister,” Simpkins later told
Sky News, ahead of a meeting
of the 102 Liberal parliamentarians next Tuesday where the
secret ballot is set to take place.
Abbott hit back immediately,
saying he had the support of
his deputy Julie Bishop, whose
strong performance as foreign
minister had seen her touted as
one of the contenders for the
“They are asking the party
room to vote out the people
that the electorate voted in,” the
prime minister said.
Bishop said in a statement she
was opposed to holding a vote
on the leadership in the interest
of cabinet solidarity.
Abbott: vowing to fight on
But should the backbenchers
get the go-ahead for a vote, she
provided no reassurance that
she will stand on a joint ticket
with the prime minister.
Abbott rose to power promising stable government and an
end to the brutal internal warfare that undermined the previous Labor administration, but
amid plunging popularity and
policy reversals he now finds
himself in a similar position.
Under Labor, Julia Gillard
first ousted prime minister
Kevin Rudd in 2010 only to be
overthrown herself three years
later by Rudd, who was then defeated in elections that installed
Abbott as leader.
“We are not the Labor Party...
and we are not going to repeat
the chaos and the instability of the Labor years,” Abbott
said, adding that he and Bishop
would “stand together in urging the party room to defeat this
particular motion”.
“We have a strong plan... and
we are determined to get on
with it,” he said. Simpkins ap-
pealed to the best interests of
the country in asking the party
room, made up of 102 Liberal
members of the lower and upper
houses of parliament, to “either
endorse the prime minister or
seek a new direction”.
Chief government whip
Philip Ruddock confirmed he
had received notice of the leadership “spill” move and that
it would be on the agenda at
Tuesday’s Liberal Party meeting
in the capital Canberra.
Earlier this week several lawmakers openly revolted against
the premier and called for a
leadership vote, and Simpkins
said he had been inundated with
emails and questions about the
“direction the government is
being led in”.
Abbott’s personal decision to
award 93-year-old Prince Philip
a knighthood “was for many the
final proof of a disconnection
with the people,” he said.
If the leadership is declared vacant, the favourite for the prime
ministership is Communications
Minister Malcolm Turnbull -who led the party before Abbott
ousted him by a single vote in
2009. The ruling Liberal-National coalition stormed to power
in September 2013 elections, but
in polls this week it trailed the opposition Labor Party 46 to 54%.
Abbott’s personal rating tumbled
to just 34%.
The seed for questions about
Abbott’s leadership was planted
early with his first budget in May
last year which slashed spending in a bid to rein in deficits, said
Haydon Manning of the politics
department of Flinders University in South Australia.
Fast food
motorist held
speeding in the Australian city of Melbourne yesterday told police
he was racing to get “a triple
Victoria state police said
he was pulled over after
clocking 186 kilometres per
hour on a 100 km/h freeway.
“Brimbank Highway Patrol officers could have been
forgiven for thinking they
were looking at a low-flying
plane when they spotted the
28-year-old’s Proton hatch
flying down the Princess
freeway at 2:14 am,” police
The unidentified man with
the craving for what police
said turned out to be “the
most expensive cheeseburger
in Melbourne” had his car
impounded and is expected
to face a fine.
He was driving while already suspended, police said.
Crash probe focuses on engine failure
ne engine failed on the
TransAsia plane that
crashed in Taiwan this
week with the loss of at least 35
lives, and the pilots may have
inexplicably shut down the
other, investigators and experts
said yesterday.
Initial findings from the
plane’s black boxes were released as reports emerged that
the chief pilot was still clutching the joystick when his body
was found in the cockpit, after
he apparently battled to avoid
populated areas.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) also disclosed that TransAsia Airways
had failed to meet around a
third of the regulatory requirements imposed after another
fatal crash just seven months
ago in Taiwan’s western Penghu islands.
On Wednesday the Frenchmade ATR 72-600 plane,
equipped with two Pratt &
Whitney turboprop engines,
plummeted into a river after
clipping an elevated road, as
shown in dramatic dashcam
In the first account of the last
Wreckage of TransAsia Airways plane Flight GE235 is transported on the
back of a truck after it crash landed into a river, in New Taipei City.
moments of Flight GE235, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said the right engine had
“flamed out” about two minutes after takeoff from an airport in northern Taipei.
Warning signals blared in the
cockpit and the left engine was
then shut down manually by
the crew, for unknown reasons,
the council’s director Thomas
Wang told a news conference.
“The pilot tried to restart the
engines but to no avail. That
means that during the flight’s
final moments, neither engine
had any thrust,” he said. “We
heard ‘Mayday’ at 10:54:35.”
Wang said it was “not clear”
why the left engine was shut
down manually. “We are not
reaching any judgement yet,”
he said.
But analysts said it was probable the crew made an error.
“It looks like they shut the
wrong engine,” said Greg Waldron, the Singapore-based
Asia managing editor at aviation industry publication
Flightglobal. “The right-side
engine flamed out but that in
itself is not enough to cause a
crash because the ATR is designed to fly on one engine,” he
“What happened was that a
few seconds after engine two
flamed out, they (the pilots)
cut the fuel to engine one, and
when they cut fuel to engine
one that’s when things started
to go haywire because the plane
was not powered anymore.”
Such a hypothesis recalls the
1989 crash of a British Midland
Boeing 737-400, which came
down on a motorway in central
England when the pilots shut
down a functioning engine instead of a defective one. Fortyseven people were killed.
Gerry Soejatman, a Jakartabased independent aviation
analyst, said the Taiwan incident “could have been an innocent mistake”.
“I will have to take a look
again but changes in the layout
of the engine instrumentation
of the aircraft (compared with
an older version of the ATR 72)
could be a factor,” he said.
TransAsia said late yesterday all its 71 ATR pilots would
be required to sit a CAA test
to ensure they were properly
The airline said it had also
decided to conduct a year-long
review of the company, to be
carried out by “an authoritative international team”.
Taiwan authorities said the
year-old plane had also developed a problem with an engine during its delivery flight
from manufacturer ATR, from
the French city of Toulouse to
Macau, en route to Taiwan.
crashed shortly after take-off
on a domestic flight to an outlying island.
showed it hitting the road as
it banked steeply away from
buildings and into the Keelung River. Pilot Liao Chientsung has been hailed as a
hero for apparently making a
desperate attempt to steer the
plane, with 53 passengers and
five crew on board, away from
built-up areas during its steep
His body was found in the
cockpit still holding the joystick with both hands, and
with his legs badly fractured,
according to the China Times.
“He disregarded his own life.
He sacrificed it,” Liao’s sobbing
mother told reporters.
Vice President Wu Den-yih
also praised Liao as he visited
a funeral parlour where crash
victims were taken.
Timor resistance
hero premier
offers resignation
East Timor resistance hero Xanana
Gusmao has submitted his
resignation as prime minister, the
government said yesterday, after
more than a decade leading the
half-island nation during the fraught
early years of its independence.
The president must now decide
whether to accept the resignation of the 68-year-old, who has
served as either president or prime
minister since East Timor became
independent in 2002 following a
long struggle against Indonesian
occupation. The departure of the
former guerrilla fighter would
deprive Asia’s youngest nation of
a unifying figure who has helped
resolve numerous crises, but
analysts say it is time for Gusmao to
step aside to enable a transition to a
new generation of leaders. While he
remains popular, Gusmao has struggled to fulfill his promises of improving livelihoods in one of the world’s
poorest countries, and diversifying
an economy that relies heavily on
abundant oil and gas reserves. “The
transition is starting now and I urge
all parties not to panic,” said Gusmao,
who spent years living in the jungle as
a resistance fighter. “We must all contribute towards stability.” Speculation
had been mounting that Gusmao
would step aside after he began
talks with the president earlier this
week about a major government
overhaul, which is expected to be
announced in the coming days.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Militant who faked death
jailed for 12 years
Farage cancels Rotherham
event after protests
Murder accused
commits suicide
Hiring slows as skills
shortages bite: recruiters
Miliband most likely
to be PM, predicts poll
A British militant believed to have faked his own
death while fighting in Syria in order to return
home undetected was jailed for 12 years by a
court yesterday. Imran Khawaja, 27, an amateur
bodybuilder from London, admitted preparing
for acts of terrorism, attending a training camp
and possessing firearms. Khawaja spent the first
half of 2014 training alongside fighters in Syria’s
civil war and at one point posted video footage of
himself holding severed human heads on social
media. Judge Jeremy Baker at Woolwich Crown
Court handed down a 17-year extended sentence,
comprising a 12-year custodial term and five years
during which he has to report to police.
Nigel Farage has been forced to abandon a
public appearance in Rotherham amid protests
and accusations of “rubbernecking” at victims of
child sex abuse. The Ukip leader was due to cut
the ribbon on the campaign office of would-be
MP Jane Collins, but his team said he was not
coming out of the building in the South Yorkshire
town on police advice. Farage insisted he was
the victim of “trade union-funded” bullying. But
Labour’s local MP, Sarah Champion, said his visit
to the town amounted to “rubbernecking” after a
damning report into the mishandling of child sex
abuse allegations saw the government take over
the functions of the council.
A man on trial accused of murdering a guest house
landlady has committed suicide while waiting for
the jury to reach a verdict. John Heald, 53, was on
trial at Hull Crown Court accused of murdering
Bei Carter and raping another woman. Judge
Jeremy Richardson QC told the jury that Heald
was found dead at Hull Prison on Thursday night.
The jury in the nine-day trial retired to consider its
verdict on Thursday afternoon. A detective from
Humberside Police confirmed Heald’s death. A
Prison Service spokesman said: “John Heald was
found unresponsive in his cell at Hull prison at
about 5.50am. Paramedics attended but he was
pronounced dead shortly afterwards.”
The number Britons finding permanent jobs via
recruitment agencies grew at its slowest rate in
nearly two years last month but pay continued
to rise rapidly as businesses struggled to find
qualified applicants. The Recruitment and
Employment Confederation, an industry body,
said its members reported growth in permanent
placements falling to a 20-month low, while billings
for temporary staff grew at their slowest rate in
three months. “Competition for skilled workers
is driving up pay,” said REC chief executive Kevin
Green. “With record levels of employment and
falling inflation, this means workers should feel
better off in 2015 than they did in 2014,” he said.
There is only a 6% chance the election on May 7
will produce a majority government, according
to analysis published yesterday, with opposition
Labour leader Ed Miliband most likely to end up
as prime minister. The research, put together by
pollsters Populus and public affairs company
Hanover, uses polling data and statistical modelling
to generate probability predictions for the
outcome of the election, which is set to be a very
close battle. Both Prime Minister David Cameron’s
centre-right Conservatives, who have ruled in
coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats since
2010, and the Labour party each have a 3% chance
of winning an outright majority, it predicts.
Mayor spends
£9mn turning
old hospital into
council ‘palace’
London Evening Standard
he mayor of London’s
poorest borough has
spent £9mn buying a
historic hospital site to transform it into a new town hall,
the Evening Standard revealed.
Lutfur Rahman wants to
convert the derelict Royal London Hospital into a multi-million-pound “civic hub” after
acquiring the site from Britain’s
biggest NHS trust.
Rahman — presently embroiled in a court case over alleged electoral fraud during his
re-election last May - has refused to say how much public
money will be needed to rebuild
the Whitechapel hospital.
Critics yesterday accused
Rahman, one of the most controversial figures in London
politics, of a “vanity project”.
The new Tower Hamlets town
hall is due to open by 2019 and
has been dubbed “Lutfur’s palace”.
John Biggs, the Labour candidate defeated by him in the
mayoral election, said no decision on a new town hall should
be taken until the court case is
Rahman denies accusations
being heard at the High Court of
using “intimidation, corruption
and fraud” to secure victory as
an independent in last year’s
Biggs said: “This is an old
listed building and it will cost
an awful lot to refurbish. Taxpayers need to see different
options which could be more
affordable before they launch
into this one.
“Rahman has a duty to share
the options with the people of
Tower Hamlets. He must demonstrate he has not wasted public money on a ‘palace’.”
Rahman claimed in his manifesto that the project would
save “£6mn a year” and be the
centrepiece of a 10-year regeneration of the area.
Whitechapel station is being
rebuilt to accommodate Cross-
rail, while Barts Health NHS
Trust and Queen Mary, University of London have plans for a
“med city” science campus.
At present, Tower Hamlets
spends £5mn a year renting
civic space at Mulberry Place in
Docklands. The lease has cost
about £50mn since 1993 and is
due to continue to 2020.
Rahman said in a statement
to the Standard yesterday:
“Earlier this year, I made a
pledge to the residents of this
borough to regenerate the old
Royal London Hospital site by
relocating the town hall. I am
delighted the acquisition of
the site has now been completed by the council and I will
be considering a report at the
March cabinet meeting on the
next steps in the delivery of
this project.
“We estimate the relocation
of the town hall will save the
council and our residents significant future sums.”
The redevelopment is
likely to require retention of
the building’s Grade II-listed
facade on Whitechapel Road.
The hospital dates from 1748
— and became Britain’s biggest a century later. It was
replaced by the £1bn private
Royal London Hospital that
opened alongside it three
years ago.
Bosses at Barts Health, which
runs the Royal London, admitted this week that PFI repayments of about £30mn a year
were a “drag” on its finances.
The trust expects to be £93mn
in deficit by the end of March —
the biggest financial black hole
in the NHS.
Rahman has signed up political ally and former London
mayor Ken Livingstone to advise him. Current Mayor Boris
Johnson has given the wider regeneration of the area his backing.
Despite including the wealth
of Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets has the worst deprivation
rate in the country, with more
than half the children there
growing up in poverty.
Royal anniversary marked
Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery stage a 41-gun Royal Salute in Green Park, central London yesterday to mark the 63rd anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II
accession to the throne. Queen Elizabeth took the throne on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father King George VI, but to allow for a period of national mourning, she
was only crowned 16 months later on June 2, 1953, in London’s Westminster Abbey.
GCHQ’s mass Internet
surveillance ‘unlawful’
tribunal yesterday ruled
that some aspects of
intelligence-sharing between security agencies in Britain and the US were unlawful, in
a high-profile case brought by
civil liberties groups.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled that the GCHQ
acted unlawfully until December
2014 in accessing data on millions
of people in the UK that had been
Think tank sees pressure
to hike taxes after polls
ritain’s major political parties are
likely to face heavy
pressure to raise taxes to
balance the budget after
May’s election, contrary to
their stated plans, a leading think tank said yesterday.
The Institute for Fiscal
Studies, a non-partisan
body whose analyses of
Britain’s public finances are closely watched,
said the fiscal tightening
planned over the coming
years was deeper than in
any of 32 other advanced
economies it had looked at.
This would be a much
greater challenge than
the more modest progress
made by Finance Minister
George Osborne since his
Conservative Party and
their Liberal Democrat allies came to power in 2010
with a mandate to cut the
deficit, the IFS said.
“Osborne has perhaps
not been quite such an
austere chancellor as either his own rhetoric or
that of his critics might
suggest,” IFS director Paul
Johnson said.
“One result is that he or
his successor will still have
a lot of fiscal work to do
over the course of the next
parliament,” he added.
Five years ago, Osborne
intended to virtually eliminate by 2015 a budget deficit that then stood at 10%
of economic output. Instead, it has been cut to 5%
as growth fell short of the
government’s forecasts.
Osborne has said he has
no plans to raise taxes after
the election and the opposition Labour Party has
said its tax rises will be focused on the rich.
But the IFS said that
“history suggests that
general elections tend to be
followed by tax rises”.
Typically, the tax burden
is raised by about £5bn just
after an election, in today’s
terms, equivalent to increasing the standard rate
of income tax by 1 percentage point, the IFS said.
“All the parties have
suggested they would like
‘the rich’ to bear their ‘fair
share’ of any additional
fiscal adjustment. In fact
... just 3% of the adult
population already pay half
of all income tax,” the IFS
Spending cuts on the
scale currently planned by
the government were likely
to prove difficult, based on
the past five years’ experience, the IFS said.
Social security payments
have risen in real terms in
this parliament, as cuts
to benefits for workingage people have been outweighed by more generous
And real-terms cuts to
public services have also
been less than planned, as
lower-than expected inflation has made it easier for
government departments
to meet cash targets.
collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA), because the
arrangements were secret.
Campaign groups Liberty, Privacy International, Amnesty International and others brought
the case against the British intelligence agency in the wake of revelations about mass surveillance
by former NSA contractor Edward
It was the first time in its 15year history that the tribunal,
which deals with legal challenges
brought against GCHQ, MI5 and
MI6, had issued a ruling that
went against one of those security
The tribunal ruled that “the
regime governing the soliciting,
receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private
communications of individuals located in the UK, which have
been obtained by US authorities
pursuant to (NSA programmes)
Prism ... and Upstream” contravened human rights laws.
The civil liberties groups that
brought the case hailed the ruling
as a major victory.
“We now know that, by keeping
Cake show
the public in the dark about their
secret dealings with the National
Security Agency, GCHQ acted unlawfully and violated our rights,”
said James Welch, legal director
for Liberty, in a statement.
Yesterday’s ruling followed on
from a broader judgment by the
tribunal in December that Britain’s current legal regime governing mass surveillance of the Internet by intelligence agencies did
not violate human rights.
The tribunal’s concern, addressed in the new ruling, was that
until details of how GCHQ and
Ex-children’s doctor
guilty of assaults
A judge examines competition cakes on the opening day of the Cake
International show in Manchester, northern England, yesterday.
the NSA shared data were made
public in the course of the court
proceedings, the legal safeguards
provided by British law were being
GCHQ sought to minimise the
impact of the tribunal’s ruling.
“The IPT ruling re-affirms
that the processes and safeguards
within the intelligence-sharing
regime were fully adequate at all
times,” a spokesman said.
“It is simply about the amount
of detail about those processes
and safeguards that needed to be
in the public domain.”
former children’s doctor was yesterday found
guilty of indecently assaulting young girls at Stoke
Mandeville Hospital at the
same time Jimmy Savile was
abusing patients on the wards.
Michael Salmon, 79, was
convicted at Reading Crown
Court of indecently assaulting
girls at the Buckinghamshire
hospital and was also convicted
of raping a girl at his home.
He carried out many of his
attacks behind a screen in his
consulting room, while his victim’s parents waited believing
he was completing a medical
A jury found him guilty of
nine indecent assaults and two
rapes carried out against six
girls aged 11 to 18, between 1973
and 1988.
Although he worked at Stoke
Mandeville at the same time
Jimmy Savile is thought to have
abused patients at the hospital
there is no suggestion of any
link between the two.
Salmon had already been
struck off the medical register
after he admitted three counts
of indecent assault against
young female patients in 1991.
Salmon worked as a consultant paediatrician at hospitals in Buckinghamshire including the world-renowned
Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury, which was thrown in to
the spotlight following disclosures about abuse by the late
Savile in 2011.
Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said there is “no suggestion that this defendant
abused a young female patient
in concert with Jimmy Savile”.
“It’s simply that these allegations relate to a time when the
other things were happening,”
she said.
Prolific child abuser Savile is
believed to have carried out his
worst offending at the hospital,
where he had his own office after setting up the Jimmy Savile
Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Trust charity in 1981.
The court previously heard
how Salmon thought he was
“bomb-proof” because no one
would believe a child over him.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
attack on
Putin hosts Hollande,
Merkel for Ukraine talks
erman Chancellor Angela
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande
met Russian leader Vladimir Putin yesterday in a bid to avoid a
further escalation of violence in
east Ukraine.
Ahead of the Moscow talks,
Merkel played down hopes of a
rapid end to surging fighting as
she and Hollande try to convince
Putin to sign up to a peace plan
to stop the conflict.
“We know that it is completely open as to whether we’ll
succeed in achieving a ceasefire
through these talks,” Merkel told
reporters in Berlin before taking
the surprise initiative to Putin.
Merkel and Hollande flew first
to Kiev on Thursday, hoping for
a quick halt to the bloodshed and
to revive a widely flouted truce
accord agreed in Minsk last September.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the biggest push
yet to resolve the 10-month
conflict raised “hope for a ceasefire”.
Putin and the unsmiling European duo held the closed-door
talks around a small round table
in an ornate hall in the Kremlin
with the media only allowed in
briefly and no comments made.
The tense visit is the first to
Moscow for Merkel since the
start of the Ukraine crisis while
Hollande made a brief stopover
there in December.
As fears have soared of an
escalation in the conflict and
concern over possible divisions
between the United States and
Europe on whether to supply
arms to Kiev, US Vice-President
Joe Biden said Ukraine was battling for survival in the face of
escalating Russian military involvement.
“We, the US and Europe as
a whole, have to stand with
Ukraine at this moment,” Biden
said in Brussels. “Russia cannot
be allowed to redraw the map of
“President Putin continues to
call for new peace plans as his
wedish police were investigating an arson attack on
a Roma cultural centre as
a government report appeared
to be saying yesterday that the
Scandinavian country does not
sufficiently protect the centuries-old minority.
“Two bottles containing liquid were thrown through the
windows,” police in the southern
town of Malmoe said in a statement. “There was a small fire but
it was put out by a person who
was in the building.”
The man who doused the
flames alerted police shortly after midnight.
The centre was closed at the
time and no one was injured in
the fire, which came just a month
after a series of suspected arson
attacks on mosques across the
No eyewitnesses have come
“All these incidents are serious ... they can be classed as hate
crimes or something similar,”
police spokesman Peter Martin
told public broadcaster Sveriges
The arson attack happened
just ahead of the release yesterday of a government-commissioned report on anti-Roma racism which criticised Sweden for
not doing enough to protect its
Roma minority from discrimination and racism.
“Antiziganism in Sweden is
widespread and deeply rooted in
society,” said Thomas Hammerberg, who led the inquiry behind
the report. “It’s particularly serious that Roma do not consider
that they have anywhere to turn
when their rights are violated.”
In September 2013 the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter revealed that police in the southern
county of Skaane had compiled
a register of more than 4,000
Swedish Roma – including 1,000
children – the majority of whom
were not suspected of any crime.
Roma have lived in the country for more than 500 years and
the group has official minority status alongside Jews, indigenous Sami and two other linguistic groups.
Sweden has the largest Roma
minority in the Nordic countries
– an estimated 50,000 – and the
Swedish language has borrowed
several Roma words, including
“tjej” which means girl.
Last month the United Nations Human Rights Council
criticised Sweden for growing numbers of reports of hate
crimes against ethnic minorities – including Muslims, Jews
and Roma – and pointed to the
rise of anti-immigration political parties.
troops roll through the Ukrainian countryside, and he absolutely ignores every agreement
his country has signed in the
past,” Biden said.
European Union officials said
on Thursday that the bloc will
blacklist more Russian individuals over Ukraine, and it is hoped
that the possibility that broader
sanctions could be toughened up
will encourage Russia to agree to
a peace deal.
Hollande said that they were
heading to Moscow to “seek a
deal” with Putin – whom the
West sees as the mastermind
behind Ukraine’s pro-Moscow
rebellion – that would help end
the crisis in the long-term.
“Everyone is aware that the
first step must be a ceasefire,
but that is not enough and there
must be a comprehensive settlement,” Hollande told reporters
ahead of his departure.
The high-level European
shuttle diplomacy to end the
worst East-West crisis since the
end of the Cold War came as US
Secretary of State John Kerry
also visited Kiev on Thursday
and Washington mulled whether
to supply arms to the Ukraine
“President Putin can make
the choices that could end this
war,” Kerry said, voicing support
for what he called the “helpful”
Franco-German plan to be put to
the Russian leader.
As pressure grows for a peaceful resolution to the conflict
that has killed over 5,300 people, rebel and Ukrainian forces
on the ground agreed a ceasefire for several hours yesterday
around the battleground town of
Debaltseve to allow civilians to
leave, both sides said.
An AFP journalist in government-held Debaltseve said some
25 city buses sent by both the
rebels and Kiev left the shattered
town to take civilians out to their
respective territories, although
only one separatist bus was full.
The sound of sporadic shelling could be heard in the distance but mortar bombardments
in the town itself had halted after
days of fierce fighting.
Hundreds of civilians have
been killed over recent weeks in
east Ukraine as fighting spiralled
after insurgents ignored an earlier truce deal and pushed into
government-held territory.
No confirmed details have
emerged of what exactly the new
European peace proposal contains and there is much disquiet
in Kiev after the collapse of the
previous peace deal.
Kerry said the plan was a
“counter-proposal” made by
Merkel and Hollande to suggestions made earlier this week by
The European plan was then
presented to the US and Ukraine
for their input on Wednesday.
One civilian and two soldiers
were killed yesterday and 25
wounded in fighting over the
past 24 hours, a government official said.
Hollande gestures as he speaks with Putin and Merkel during their meeting at the Kremlin yesterday.
Bishops told to co-operate
with sex abuse commission
Vatican City
host raped women
An Italian police officer who
posed as an amiable host on the website has
been charged with drugging and
raping a 16-year-old Australian
and may have done the same to
up to 15 other women, judicial
sources said yesterday.
Dino Maglio, 35, will go stand
trial in Padua near Venice from
March 17 on charges of raping
a minor with the aggravating
circumstance of having
administered a narcotic without
her knowledge, prosecutors in
the northern city said.
The case is set to reignite
safety concerns surrounding
Couchsurfing, a site that puts
travellers in touch with hosts
who are willing to put them up
and show them around their
hometowns for free.
Its declared aim is “a world
made better by travel and travel
made richer by connection” but
its model has been criticised in
the past because of incidents of
travellers being attacked by hosts
they know nothing about.
Prosecutors investigating the
case of the Australian 16-year-old
are also now considering possible
further charges arising from a
suspected attack after Maglio
was charged, and statements
about similar incidents made by
14 women from seven countries
to the Investigative Reporting
Project Italy (IRPI).
A convoy of buses leaves Debaltseve with civilians after both sides agreed a brief humanitarian truce. Around 25 buses from both the
Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist sides drove into the shattered strategic town that has been the centre of fighting in recent days.
People walk with umbrellas in front of Saint Peter’s Square in
Homeless receiving
tourists’ umbrellas
Vatican City
ope Francis has ordered
that umbrellas forgotten
by tourists be distributed to the homeless of Rome
to get them through a spate of
unusually rainy weather, Ansa
news agency said on its website
The Vatican said in a statement that work had been finished on new facilities in Saint
Peter’s Square where homeless
will be offered showers, toiletries, shaves and haircuts.
The facilities are due to open
Francis, who was known as
the “slum bishop” in his native
Buenos Aires because of his
frequent visits to shantytowns,
has made concern for the poor
a major plank of his papacy.
The head of the Pope’s charity office, Monsignor Konrad
Krajewski, told Ansa that 300
umbrellas left behind by tourists at Vatican museums had
been distributed in recent
Krajewski came up with
the idea of building showers
in Saint Peter’s Square after a
homeless person told him that
while it was relatively easy
to find places to eat at Rome
charities, it was difficult to find
places to wash.
Barbers and hairdressers will
donate their services on Mondays, the day their shops are
traditionally closed in Italy.
The showers will be open
every day except Wednesday,
when the square is crowded
with people for the Pope’s general audience.
ope Francis has ordered
Roman Catholic bishops
around the world to co-operate as a matter of priority with
a commission he set up to protect children from sexual abuse
by clerics, even if it unearths new
The Pope, who met victims
of abuse last year, sent the letter
to the bishops and heads of religious institutions a day before
the commission was due to hold
its first full meeting.
“Everything possible must
be done to rid the church of the
scourge of the sexual abuse of
minors and to open pathways
of reconciliation and healing
for those who were abused,” the
Pope says in the letter.
“Families need to know that
the church is making every effort
to protect their children ... prior-
ity must not be given to any other
kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid
scandal, since there is absolutely
no place in ministry for those
who abuse minors.”
One of the members of the
commission, Marie Collins of
Ireland, herself a victim of sexual
abuse, told Reuters that commission members had asked the
Pope for a letter to thwart any resistance from bishops, which she
said some members expected.
“Bishops’ conferences have
various views on abuse, as we
know. In my own country, Ireland, there was a great deal of resistance to change, to putting in
all the correct, necessary prevention measures and treating survivors in the right way,” she said by
“You must pre-empt that. If
the commission wants co-operation ... then I think a letter from
the Holy Father indicating that
they (bishops) should co-operate
Priest sentenced to six years in prison
A Catholic priest in the German town of Krefeld has been sentenced to
six years in prison on 25 counts of child abuse, the district court said
The 56-year-old priest, whose name was withheld due to privacy considerations, sexually abused his godson and the boy’s brother on dozens of
occasions, with the court finding proof for 25 of those.
The judge’s six-year sentence exceeds the sentence of five-and-a-half
years that prosecutors had originally sought.
certainly lends the backing necessary to our work,” she said.
Part of the task of the commission, which is made up of 17 clerics and lay people from around
the world, is to help dioceses put
in place “best practices” to prevent abuse and work with victims
in a process of healing.
Eight members are women
and two were sexually abused by
The other victim is Peter
Saunders of Britain.
The worldwide scandal, which
came to global prominence in
Boston in 2001, has seen known
abusers shunted from parish to
parish instead of being defrocked
and handed over to the authorities.
In a number of developed
countries, particularly in the
United States, the Catholic
Church has paid tens of millions
of dollars in settlements.
It has put in place new measures in recent years to protect
children, but victims’ groups say
that it must do more, and make
bishops who allegedly covered up
the abuse accountable.
Pope Francis under fire for spanking ‘howler’
Vatican City
ope Francis came under fire
yesterday after an off-thecuff remark in which he
defended the right of parents to
spank their children.
In comments during his weekly general audience on Wednesday, the Pontiff described a good
father as one who knew how to
forgive but also how to “correct
with firmness”.
“Once, in a meeting with married couples, I heard a father say
‘I sometimes have to smack my
children a bit, but never in the
face so as to not humiliate them’,”
Francis said. “How beautiful! He
knows the sense of dignity! He
has to punish them but does it
justly and moves on.”
The comment made no waves
in Italy but has been criticised in
Germany, one of several countries which outlaws all forms of
corporal punishment.
“There is no way of hitting
children with dignity,” the country’s minister for the family,
Manuela Schwesig, says in an interview with Die Welt, due to be
published today.
The German Association for
Children’s Aid called on the Pope
to correct his own error. “This
Pope is particularly humane, but
anyone can make a mistake. By
suggesting it is okay to hit a child
if it is done with dignity, he completely misses the point.”
The leader of the world’s
Catholics also came under fire
from Peter Saunders, a member
of Francis’s recently-established
panel on child protection.
“I think that is a very misguided thing to have said and I’m
surprised he said it, although he
does come up with some howlers
sometimes,” Saunders told the
Daily Telegraph. “It is a most unhelpful remark to have made and
I will tell him that.”
Saunders is in Rome for the
first full meeting of the Pontifical
Commission for the Protection
of Minors.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Court rejects Togadia’s
plea to enter Bengaluru
Singer Shreya Ghoshal
ties the knot
Comedy group, YouTube
named in obscenity case
Jeffrey Archer to
visit India in March
Child loses leg in washing
machine accident
The Karnataka High Court yesterday dismissed
the interim prayer of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
leader Pravin Togadia to stay the police ban on his
entry into this city to attend a religious convention
tomorrow. Upholding the ban order imposed by
city police on Togadia on Tuesday, justice S Abdul
Nazeer, however, observed that his petition was
maintainable and he had the right to appeal in a
higher court for relief. The week-long ban from
Feb 5-11 barred Togadia from entering the city and
participating in public meetings or functions for
seven days on the grounds that his provocative and
inflammatory speeches would have grave consequences and cause breach of peace.
Singer Shreya Ghoshal wed
her boyfriend Shiladitya in a
traditional Bengali wedding
on Thursday. “Married the
love of my life yesterday night
(February 5) in a beautiful
Bengali traditional wedding in
presence of our families and
closest friends. Shiladitya and
I both seek your good wishes
in this exciting new phase of our lives,” Shreya
posted on her official Facebook page yesterday
morning. Shreya, a National Award winning singer,
even shared a photograph of her wedding day.
Bollywood stars, a director and a comedy collective have been named in a case accusing them
of obscenity in a public place, police in Pune
said yesterday. YouTube was also named for
distributing the allegedly offensive content, said
Sudhakar Pathare, Pune’s deputy commissioner
of police. The case relates to an event in front
of about 4,000 people in Mumbai with actors
Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor, hosted by film
maker Karan Johar and organised by the comedy
collective AIB. Actresses Deepika Padukone
and Sonakshi Sinha, who participated in the AIB
Knockout event, were also named in the report
registered by police.
British author Jeffrey Archer will give the capital
a miss when he heads out for a five-city tour
of India to promote his new book in March,
his publishers said yesterday. The 75-year-old
will be promoting Mightier Than The Sword,
which is the final book of the Clifton Chronicles
series. The author will be travelling to Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru,
publishing house Pan Macmillan officials said.
Archer, the author of bestsellers like Only Time
Will Tell, The Sins of the Father and Best Kept
Secret, had visited India last year and in 2013 to
promote the third and fourth volumes of “The
Clifton Chronicles”.
Efforts to reattach a leg of a five-year-old child, who
had put it inside a washing machine, have failed, a
doctor said yesterday. Despite repeated surgeries,
doctors in Kolkata could not reattach the child’s
right foot. “Despite efforts, we could not reattach
the leg and it had to be amputated below the knee,”
plastic surgeon Anupam Golash said. The child’s
father said the freak accident occurred late last
month. “The door lock of the washing machine had
malfunctioned which allowed him to put in his leg.
It was only for a few seconds but his leg was almost
severed,” he said. “In high-spin mode, a few seconds
inside the washing machine is enough to cause
such damage,” Golash added.
hail Obama
tolerance call
New Delhi
uslim and Christian
leaders yesterday warned
of growing fear among
India’s religious minorities after
US President Barack Obama said
Mahatma Gandhi would have been
shocked by communal violence in
the country.
Only days after warning in
New Delhi about the need to promote religious tolerance, Obama
invoked the memory of India’s
independence icon to drive home
a similar appeal during a speech
in Washington on Thursday.
While praising its “magnificent diversity”, Obama then described India as a place where
“religious faiths of all types have,
on occasion, been targeted by
other peoples of faith, simply
due to their heritage and their
Such “acts of intolerance ...
would have shocked Gandhiji”,
Obama added - using a term of respect for the late icon - in comments
that made front-page headlines in
Indian newspapers yesterday.
The issue of religious freedom
in India - an officially secular
country - has become particularly
contentious since the election last
year of Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, a fervent Hindu nationalist.
Obama’s comments came on
the same day that a protest in
Delhi by Christians to denounce
a spate of attacks on churches
ended in clashes with police that
saw a nun knocked to the ground
in the violence.
John Dayal, spokesman for
the United Christian Forum for
Human Rights, said the unease
about religious intolerance in India was growing and the nature
of Obama’s comments was particularly striking.
“The entire world is speaking about the fears of religious
minorities in India,” Dayal said.
“For President Obama, this is as
direct as he can get.”
Father Dominic, the spokesman
for the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese,
said the country needed to face up to
the “reality” that different religions
were attacking each other.
“I don’t think anyone will disagree with what he (Obama) has
said as he has said it for all and it
is the reality in India,” he told the
NDTV network.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chief
cleric in Jammu and Kashmir, said
it was “disturbing” that Hindu
hardliners were becoming more
powerful under Modi and were
spreading “a feeling of insecurity
among religious minorities”.
“There is no denying the fact
that divisive Hindutva forces
are gaining strength in India,” he
said. “This is a dangerous trend.
The world will do better to see it
for what it is.”
Modi was persona non grata
in the US for a decade following anti-Muslim violence that
left at least 1,000 people dead in
Gujarat, where he was state chief
minister before winning the 2014
general election.
He has also been criticised for
failing to speak out against a BJP
lawmaker who called for Hindu
women to have at least four children to “protect” their religion
and a recent spate of “re-conversions” to Hinduism.
Around 80% of India’s 1.2bn
population is Hindu but it is also
home to large numbers of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.
The Modi government yesterday insisted the country has
always had a “cultural history of
tolerance”, saying “any aberrations do not alter that history”.
“In our nation we do not discriminate on the basis of caste,
creed or religion,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters
in Delhi.
“Religious tolerance is inherent in our Indian culture, all sects
of Muslims, Parsis and Christians are found living (in harmony) in India,” he added.
Jumbo meal
A passer-by feeds an elephant, which is hired for weddings and parties, on the banks of the river Yamuna in New Delhi yesterday.
AAP snubs Bukhari
as Delhi heads to polls
New Delhi
n the eve of Delhi assembly polls, the Shahi
Imam of Jama Masjid,
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, yesterday
appealed to Muslims to vote for
the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The AAP, however, rejected
his “unsolicited” support and
questioned its timing.
The Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) has accused the AAP of
polarising Delhi on communal
lines and questioned whether
the party knew beforehand that
Bukhari would issue such an appeal.
Delhi goes to the polls today
to elect a 70-member assembly.
JD-U split looms as Bihar
political crisis worsens
he crisis in Bihar’s ruling
Janata Dal-United deepened further yesterday
over the party’s visible move to
replace Chief Minister Jitan Ram
Manjhi by his predecessor Nitish
Kumar with the support of Lalu
Prasad’s RJD.
Nitish Kumar’s supporters
and Manjhi and his backers in
the party were locked in a war
of words, with the chief minister terming the Sharad Yadavconvened meeting of the JD-U
legislature party today as illegal
and unconstitutional and Nitish
Kumar camp threatening to take
action against Manjhi.
The chief minister, who earlier refused to resign, has called
a counter-meeting of the JD-U
legislature party on February 20.
Amid speculation that the JD-U
is heading for a split, Manjhi’s
supporters also clashed with Nitish Kumar aides near the JD-U office on Birchand Patel Marg here,
leaving at least 12 people injured.
The clashes broke out when
Manjhi’s slogan shouting supporters burnt an effigy of Nitish Kumar and shouted slogans
against the former chief minister,
police said.
“Dozens of Manjhi supporters
entered the JD-U office and tried
to ransack it and damage the
property,” a police officer said.
Manjhi’s supporters took to
the streets after JD-U national
general secretary K C Tyagi yesterday said Manjhi would be replaced by Nitish Kumar and action would be taken against him
for describing the legislature
party meeting called by Sharad
Yadav as unconstitutional and if
he fails to attend.
Manjhi yesterday targeted Tyagi by calling him “insane’. Manjhi claimed he would continue to
be chief minister and vowed to
fight any move to oust him.
The chief minister also lashed
out at Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile, Sharad Yadav has
urged Bihar governor, Keshri Nath
Tripathi, not to accept any of
Manjhi’s recommendations as he
did not enjoy the support of the
majority of the party legislators.
“Sharad Yadav in a letter to the
governor has informed him that
Manjhi does not enjoy the support of the majority of party legislators,” a JD-U leader said.
The JD-U leadership fears
Manjhi may recommend that
the governor dissolves the Bihar
assembly ahead of his likely replacement.
Earlier in the day, Tyagi declared that a majority of the
party leaders, including legislators, were with Sharad Yadav and
Nitish Kumar.
He, however, added that the
JD-U leadership never expected
Manjhi to openly revolt against
the party’s decision.
Tyagi added that the party was
uncomfortable with Manjhi’s repeated controversial statements
which had dented the party’s
image among the public. “Manjhi is not above the party and the
party’s decision is final.”
Two ministers, Brishen Patel and
Nitish Mishra, yesterday declared
their support for Manjhi and said
they would not attend the legislature meeting called by Sharad Yadav.
The votes will be counted on
February 10.
“The AAP seems to be in a position to form the government
and we must give them strength
and help in forming a secular
government in Delhi,” Bukhari
Snubbing Bukhari’s offer, the
AAP accused him of practising
communal politics and said such
elements seemed to be propped
up by the BJP.
“We not only reject the offer
made by Ahmed Bukhari but we
also want to make it clear that
the AAP is here to fight communal politics,” AAP leader Ashish
Khetan told the media.
Reacting to Bukhari’s remark,
BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain
attacked the AAP saying it was
trying to “divide” Delhi communally.
Union minister and BJP leader
Nirmala Sitharaman said: “The
AAP’s politics is based on double standards. Did the AAP know
that an appeal was going to be
Earlier AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal expressed confidence that
his party would win today’s assembly elections in Delhi and
form a government.
“I am happy and confident
that we will form the government in Delhi,” the former chief
minister told the media.
Meanwhile, 13 supporters of
various political parties were injured in three separate incidents
of clashes in the past 24 hours,
Delhi police said yesterday.
Rich list grows
In the first incident, three AAP
workers were injured after being
allegedly attacked by workers of
the BJP in west Delhi’s Uttam
Nagar late Thursday night.
“One of the alleged attackers
has been arrested and a case registered,” deputy commissioner of
police, Pushpendra Kumar, said.
The second incident was reported yesterday around 4pm
from north Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar area where a clash broke out
between supporters of the Congress and the AAP.
Police said at least seven
members from both sides were
injured in the scuffle that broke
out after the supporters of one
side found the other distributing
alcohol to lure voters.
Three AAP members, includ-
Uma Bharti sorry for
‘immigrant’ blunder
A woman tries on gold jewellery at a stall during the
‘Asia Wedding Fair 2015’ in Bengaluru yesterday. The
Indian wedding market is worth a reported $38bn and
is expected to grow as the number of millionaires in the
country increases. India has replaced Russia as the thirdrichest country on the Chinese-published Hurun Global
Rich List 2015.
ing its candidate Akhilesh Tripathi from Model Town constituency, were injured in the attack
while four supporters of the
Congress also suffered injuries
in the attack.
Police said they have received
complaints from both the side.
They were verifying the allegations and had also collected
CCTV footage from the area to
ascertain the facts.
The third incident happened
in west Delhi’s Narela area where
three men allegedly barged into
the office of a Congress candidate to threaten him. The party
workers beat them up and handed them over to the police.
Police said they were investigating to establish the identities
of the trio.
nion minister and BJP
leader Uma Bharti yesterday apologised to the
people of the northeast for the
party’s Delhi poll Vision Document that described people from
the region living in the capital as
“I request the people of the region to not have any ill-feelings
because we sincerely want the
region’s development,” the Water
Resources and River Development
minister said at the two-day Assam Water Conference 2015 here.
“We will apologise not once,
but a thousand times. The people
of the northeast are very close to
the central government,” she said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s
Vision Document for the February 7 Delhi assembly polls, which
was released on Tuesday, said:
“North eastern immigrants to be
She stressed upon the need
for all sections to work together
to get the coveted Unesco World
Heritage Site status for Assam’s
river island Majuli.
“I will also visit Majuli island on
Brahmaputra river in Jorhat district. We should work together in
helping Majuli get Unesco’s world
heritage site. I will spend two days
at the island and study all aspects
on how we can help Majuli.”
Expressing the central government’s commitment towards
the northeast region, she said
schemes and mechanisms will
be devised so that erosion is controlled effectively in Assam.
“We are committed to devising schemes which can take care
of controlling erosion effectively.
If necessary, we will restructure
earlier schemes to make them
more effective,” Uma Bharti said.
“We are going to accord high
priority for management of the
Brahmaputra water resources,”
the minister said.
The BJP leader also raised the
issue of hydro power potential of
the northeast.
“We want to use the water resources of the region to the fullest
for the region’s development. We
are going for restructuring, reframing and reshaping of Brahmaputra
Board so that it becomes an effective
body for proper utilisation of water
resources,” Bharti said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Bengal minister held in
Saradha scam seeks bail
Modi has hoodwinked
the nation: Mulayam
Ritu Khaitan gets bail
in chopper deal case
Activist’s car attacked after
drive to identify ‘rapists’
Omar Abdullah leader
of NC legislature party
West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra,
who is behind bars since December for his
alleged complicity in the Saradha scam, yesterday
approached a court seeking bail. The bail petition
has been filed before the court of Alipore district
and sessions judge which on Wednesday granted
bail to Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member
Srinjoy Bose. Bose, who has resigned both as a
parliamentarian and Trinamool member, was
granted bail after spending 75 days since his
arrest in November 2014. Mitra’s bail plea is
expected to come up for hearing on February
11 when the statutory period of 60 days for the
prosecution to file the charge sheet, is completed.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
yesterday attacked Prime Minister Narendra
Modi and accused him of “lying to the nation” and
“fooling the people”. On his maiden visit to his
parliamentary constituency of Azamgarh, Yadav
while addressing a rally of party supporters, locals
and party workers said that none of the promises
made by Modi have been fulfilled. “Have people
got jobs, have prices come down, has poverty been
reduced, have international relations improved,” he
asked the cheering crowd which answered in the
negative. The former UP chief minister later laid
foundation stones of developmental projects for
Azamgarh worth several hundred crores.
A Delhi court yesterday granted bail to
businessman Gautam Khaitan’s wife Ritu Khaitan,
accused in a money-laundering case related to the
AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. The Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge V K
Gupta granted bail to Ritu Khaitan on a personal
bond of Rs500,000. The Khaitan couple were
chargesheeted by the enforcement directorate
with Chandigarh-based firm Aeromatrix and two
Italian nationals in November last year. The supply
of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came
under scrutiny after the Italian authorities alleged
that the company paid a bribe to clinch the deal
with India, inked in February 2010.
Unidentified men damaged the car of antihuman trafficking activist Sunitha Krishnan
in Hyderabad yesterday after she launched
a nationwide online campaign to identify six
alleged rapists filmed in two separate videos.
Krishnan’s car parked outside her office near
Charminar was stoned. The activist, who runs
Prajwala, an NGO working to save trafficked
women, lodged a complaint with Hussaini Alam
police station in the old city. Police said they
were looking into the incident. She claimed
that her car was vandalised 30 minutes after
she appeared on NDTV to announce her
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and
National Conference (NC) working president
Omar Abdullah was yesterday unanimously
elected leader of the NC legislature party. At a
meeting of the newly elected members of the
state assembly in Jammu, senior NC leader Ali
Mohamed Sagar proposed Omar Abdullah’s
name which was seconded by another party
leader Devender Singh Rana. The members
endorsed the candidature of Omar Abdullah
unanimously, a statement said. Senior NC leader
Mian Altaf Ahmed was elected chief whip of the
legislature party. Omar Abdullah won the 2014
state assembly polls from Beerwah constituency.
art event
Chilli prices soar
Sahara has
no intention
to sell assets,
claims US firm
By Ashraf Padanna
on-resident Indian (NRI)
tycoon Yusuffali M A,
who owns the largest retail chain in the Middle East, yesterday announced his long-term
plan to support the Kochi-Muziris
Biennale, India’s biggest art event.
He offered Rs5mn for the current show and Rs10mn for the
next edition beginning in December next year. Yusuffali will
also promote the event throughout his business chain with footprints in Asia, Africa and Europe.
“This is a major boost for us,
especially at a time when we are
into a successful second edition.
He’s now one of the three platinum sponsors,” the Biennale
Foundation chairman and celebrated artist, Bose Krishnamachari, said in Kochi.
This makes Yusuffali, the
LuLu and EMKE group chief who
is also a director of the Cochin
(CIAL), which operates India’s
first corporate airport in the city,
the largest promoter of the 108day mega art event after the state
“Yusuffali owns India’s second biggest supermarket located in this port city while his
international convention centre,
which is also India’s biggest, is
nearing completion here. It’s really a huge boost”.
Yusuffali made the announcement after his visit to the biennale’s main venue of Aspinwall
House, an abandoned warehouse that once used to serve
Arabian, Chinese and European
spice traders. He has also offered
a part of the LuLu International
Convention Centre, when the
work is completed, as the next
biennale venue.
“The biennale is not the obligation of the government alone,”
said Yusuffali. “People around
the world know about this art
exhibition and it is a pride of
Kerala. It is the responsibility of
businesses and of the people to
support it.”
Labourers dry newly-arrived chillies at a farm in Sertha, some 25kms from Ahmedabad
yesterday. Farm owner Jivanlal Patel says crop yields are down following unseasonal rains
and global warming, which has pushed the price of chillies up by half in the last year.
Katara murderers get
30-year prison terms
New Delhi
he Delhi High Court yesterday sentenced Vikas
Yadav and his cousin
Vishal Yadav to 30 years in prison
for the murder of Nitish Katara, a
friend of Vikas Yadav’s sister.
But a special bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J R
Midha rejected police and Nitish Katara’s mother Neelam
Katara’s plea to award the death
penalty to the two Yadavs and
Sukhdev Pehalwan, who carried out the killing.
The bench awarded 25 years
jail to the Yadavs for the murder and five years for destruction of evidence. The two sentences will run consecutively.
The court also imposed a fine of
Rs5.4mn each on the cousins.
The court sentenced Pehalwan to 25 years in jail with a fine
of Rs20,000.
The bench said the convicts
will have to undergo the punishment without any remission.
The counsels of Vikas and
Vishal said they would approach the Supreme Court
against the judgment.
Neelam Katara, who had
sought the death sentence for
the three killers, will get Rs4mn
as compensation from the Yadav brothers, the bench said.
After the ruling, Neelam Katara said “I respect the judgment of, I appreciate they at least
agreed to enhance punishment, I
am satisfied with that. But I will
move Supreme Court.” She said:
“I think any numerical value can’t
compensate the death of my son.
It will be injustice for my son if I
accept the compensation.”
According to the prosecution, Vikas Yadav and Vishal Yadav killed Katara on the night of
February 17, 2002, after abducting him from a marriage party
in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, as
they were opposed to his friendship with their sister Bharti.
Vikas and Bharti are children
of former parliamentarian D P
Yadav. Vishal was convicted in
2008 along with Vikas for kid-
napping and murdering Katara,
son of an Indian Administrative
Service officer.
In its ruling yesterday, the
court also said the period
spent by Vikas at the All India
Institute Of Medical Science
(AIIMS) from October 10, 2011,
to November 4, 2011, shall not
be counted as a period already
spent by him in jail.
The bench asked him to pay
Rs239,000 to the Delhi government towards the hospital
and security charges during his
stay in the All India Institute Of
Medical Science.
Neelam Katara had alleged
that Vikas visited hospitals
many times by misusing his financial and political influence.
For Vishal, the court said the
320 days which he spent in Batra Hospital shall not be counted
as a period in which he has
undergone imprisonment and
asked him to pay over Rs1.53mn
to the Delhi government for the
expenditure incurred on him
during his seven hospital admissions post conviction.
enying “unfounded” allegations of forgery, the
US-based Mirach Capital
Group has asserted that it remains “ready, willing and able”
to buy Sahara assets, but its loan
offer was no longer on the table.
The syndicate of five UK and
US investors, which had last
month made a $2bn loan offer
to embattled Sahara group chief
Subrata Roy, in turn accused
Sahara of repeatedly acting “to
undermine the transaction, and
thereby wasting our investors’
Roy, who has been locked up
in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail since
March on the Supreme Court’s
orders for Sahara’s failure to
refund investors needs to raise
about $1.6bn to secure his release on bail.
With special permission of the
apex court, Roy has been trying
to raise the money by negotiating the sale of properties from
These include the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Grosvenor
House Hotel in London, Sahara
Star in Mumbai and Aamby Valley resorts in Maharashtra.
The Mirach Capital Group,
which was specially formed
for the execution of the Sahara
deal, had initially offered a loan
against Sahara group’s hospitality properties, according to its
Indian-American CEO, Saransh
But “Mirach faced a number of
challenges in closing this transaction; nevertheless, we remain
steadfast and are ready, willing,
Solar park opens
and able to acquire these assets,”
he said in an e-mailed statement.
“The amicus curiae, Sahara’s
legal counsel, Roy and other essential parties including our investors, have been made privy to
the details indicating our willingness and ability to successfully execute this transaction,”
Mirach stated.
“In spite of the court mandates to raise bail, Sahara has always been and continues to be an
unwilling seller of these assets,”
it said.
“They have thus repeatedly
acted to undermine the transaction, and thereby wasted the
time of our investors, Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of
India) and the Supreme Court,”
the group said.
“The dangerous allegations
made by Sahara are indicative
of a direct intent to destabilise a
deal structure that, given its high
rate of return, would benefit Mirach and its investors,” it said.
Initially, the Mirach Capital Group said it had reached a
deal with Sahara to provide a
structured loan package, including taking over the debt
on the foreign assets from
the Bank of China, and a sale
of the Indian assets.
Though Mirach has
been interested in an
outright sale of the
assets, Sahara would
only agree to exclusivity under the
loan structure as
outlined, it said.
“Upon recognising their inability to make
interest p a y -
Eight-year-old girl
raped, murdered
Workers fix panels at the 21MW solar park set up by French
major Solar Direct in Fazilka, Punjab. The solar park was later
inaugurated in the presence of French Minister Segolene
Royal and Punjab New and Renewable Energy Sources
Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The solar park, spread across
40 hectares, has a capacity of 21MW and will generate 39
GWh per annum, or the consumption equivalent of 44,000
residents, said a press release.
ment on the loan, and thus in
danger of losing their assets at a
discounted rate through default,
members of the Sahara Group
violated the exclusivity agreement and began shopping the
assets for a sale,” Mirach alleged.
It said it had learned of this after representatives of the Sahara
Group approached members of
Mirach’s syndicate.
“Following Mirach’s multiple
notices to Sahara that they were
in breach of contract, the latter
began to take an adversarial position against Mirach, and began
to attempt to discredit and smear
Mirach’s reputation,” it alleged.
“Any claims of Sahara being
defrauded by Mirach are untrue
and are being presented in an effort to unravel the deal and shelter Roy,” Mirach said.
The proof of Mirach’s financial capabilities has been previously verified by Sahara’s lawyers, and a simple meta data test
will show no documents have
been forged, it said.
Mirach claimed that upon Sahara’s agreement and with support from the Supreme Court
to a sale of the assets, Mirach
“stands ready to publicly disclose the identity of our investors who have historically
earmarked funds for this
transaction to which
Mirach has had access.”
financial institutions, legal
counsel, and investors, have repeatedly
declined to engage
in this transaction
because of the public profile and Roy’s
legal troubles, it
olice in Bengaluru were
yesterday searching for a
man suspected of raping
and murdering an eight-yearold girl, in the latest shocking sex
attack in the country.
Superintendent B Ramesh
said they are hunting a man in
his early 20s, captured on CCTV,
who is thought to have smothered her to death.
“Bite marks and injuries on
her body suggests the victim
was molested and raped before
she was smothered to death by
an unidentified youth aged (between) 22 and 25,” Ramesh said.
“We have formed eight search
teams to trace the culprit.”
CCTV footage released by police showed a man playing with
the schoolgirl before leading her
into a deserted car shed on the
outskirts of Bengaluru, the state
capital of Karnataka.
Later he is seen emerging from
the shed without the girl and
walking away.
Police found the mutilated
body of the victim late Thurs-
day after her parents, who were
working at a local brick factory
at the time of the attack, reported her missing.
“We are analysing CCTV footage to identify the suspect. The
footage is blurred as the area
around the shed... was in shadows,” Ramesh said.
According to eye witnesses,
the youth, aged around 25 years,
was drunk and not from the area.
Passersby had seen the alleged
culprit taking the victim into the
car shed and downing the shutters.
NDTV news channel said
residents of the area were in
shock following the latest incident.
“How can we let our children
out to play for even a few minutes?” a local told the channel.
Bangalore hit the headlines
last July after a six-year-old girl
was allegedly raped in a school,
triggering street protests by angry parents and political activists over poor safety standards
for women and children.
In 2012, the fatal gang-rape of
a student on a bus in New Delhi
led to a public outcry and tougher laws to deter rapists.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Police kill 12 suspects
in Brazil shootout
129 exploited workers
rescued from factory
Former Mandela lawyer to
join Lopez defence team
Soccer players beaten
by fans after defeat
Workers’ Party treasurer
held in Petrobras probe
At least 12 suspected criminals were killed and four
others injured yesterday in a shootout with police
in the north-eastern Brazilian city of Salvador,
according to media reports. The Brazilian news
agency Estado reported that the clash happened
in the poor neighbourhood of Cabula in the
early hours of the morning, when police officers
cornered 30 armed men who authorities claim
were getting ready to rob a bank. Three further
suspects were hospitalised, and two of them were
reportedly in serious condition. The fourth person
injured in the clash was a police sergeant who was
being treated for a slight wound to the head. Police
seized 16 firearms and drugs, the report said.
Four South Koreans were arrested in western
Mexico over working conditions at a textile
plant, officials said, after a tip-off alleging abusive
working conditions and sexual and psychological
harassment. Authorities raided the factory
of South Korean-owned Yes International in
Guadalajara and found 129 people, mostly women
and six minors working exhausting hours in
unsanitary condition, National Migration Institute
commissioner Ardelio Vargas said, according to
El Universal. The news report said the suspects
were being investigated for verbal, physical and
sexual abuse, human trafficking and not having the
necessary paperwork for their own stay in Mexico.
A Canadian member of parliament and human
rights lawyer who helped defend Nelson
Mandela will join jailed Venezuelan opposition
leader Leopoldo Lopez’s legal team, the South
American politician’s party said. Irwin Cotler, a
former justice minister and attorney general
for Canada, will visit Caracas in coming days
to “actively join” Lopez’s defence, the Popular
Will party said in a statement. He has previously
served as counsel to Mandela, according to his
website. Lopez is accused of masterminding last
year’s anti-Venezuelan government protests that
turned violent and left 43 people dead. He will
complete a year in jail on February 18.
Soccer fans in Peru sore over their club Alianza
Lima’s 4-0 loss to Argentina’s Huracan attacked
their own team, wounding two top players
and prompting rumours they might quit. The
supporters broke into the club’s Alejandro
Villanueva stadium in the Peruvian capital carrying
sticks, witnesses said on local broadcaster RPP.
Newspaper El Comercio reported that about
60 fans burst into the locker room ahead of a
scheduled practice, beating several players and
pointing a gun at two of them. Two of the club’s
players, forward Christian Cueva and midfielder
Victor Cedron, were wounded in the attack, family
members and friends told local media.
The growing scandal engulfing Brazilian oil giant
Petrobras hit the ruling Workers’ Party close to
home as its treasurer was detained over allegations
of involvement in a multi-billion-dollar kickback
scheme. Joao Vaccari Neto, the treasurer of
President Dilma Rousseff’s party, was temporarily
held for questioning in a corruption probe that
has drawn in a number of politicians - including
members of the ruling coalition. “We want
information on the cash donations he requested,
legal or illegal, from people who had contracts with
Petrobras,” prosecutor Carlos Fernando Lima said.
He added it was “still very premature” to determine
exactly what role Vaccari played.”
Mexico deports
record number
of migrants in
US-led effort
Guardian News and Media
Mexico City
ecord numbers of women
and children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America were deported by
Mexican authorities last year, as
part of US-driven operations to
stem the flow of migrants reaching the American border.
More than 24,000 women
were deported from Mexico in
2014 - double the number sent
home in 2013. The upsurge in
child detentions was even sharper - climbing 230% to just over
23,000, Mexican interior ministry figures reveal.
Many were captured during
security operations targeting
train and bus routes commonly
used by Central American migrants as part of a new strategy
called new Southern Border Plan
(Plan Frontera Sur). The plan
was launched last summer after
Barack Obama declared the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied children and families
seeking refuge at the US border
an “urgent humanitarian situation” .
The new measures helped
prevent a staggering 9,661 Honduran and 7,975 Guatemalan
children from reaching the US almost three times more than in
2013. Almost 11,000 unaccompanied children, including 1,853
aged 11 or younger, were also
caught and deported by Mexican
Mexican officials say the new
crackdown is designed to retake
control of the historically porous southern frontier and protect migrants from transnational
crime groups. But the measures
have been widely attributed to
pressure from the Americans,
who do not want a repeat of last
year’s crisis which clogged up
the immigration courts and saw
tens of thousands women and
children crammed into detention
centres at the border.
Adam Isacson, a security expert at the Washington Office on
Latin America, told the Guardian: “Migration is not a political
issue in Mexico. They would not
have grabbed on to it without
increasingly loud complaints
and prodding from the US to do
something about it. Frontera Sur
is only about catching migrants,
and sending them back before
they make it to the US.”
It is unclear how much Mexico
is spending on the operations,
but the US state department has
agreed to provide $86mn to help
build new checkpoints, road
blocks, naval bases and modernise inspection technologies along
the country’s southern border,
which has 11 formal and 370 informal crossings.
Professor Rodolfo Casillas, a
migration scholar at the Latin
American Social Science Institute (Flacso), said: “Migrants
boost local economies as they
pass through Mexico, they are
not a destabilising factor. Migration also benefits their own
country’s economies by alleviating pressure on public services
and through remittances.
“The so called crisis was an
American crisis, and political
pressure to stop the flow came
from them.”
There are always ebbs and
flows in overland migration to
the US, driven by financial crises,
civil wars and natural disasters.
But, the current exodus from
Central America looks set to
continue as there are no coherent
short-term plans to tackle the
toxic mix of gang and cartel violence, corruption, high unemployment and low wages, which
are driving people out.
The US state department’s
proposed budget for next year
includes $1bn to bolster governance and the economies of Central America, but this is unlikely
to discourage migration immediately.
Haiti unrest
A man kicks a tear gas canister away as others run for cover during clashes between police and protesters near Champs Mars in Port-au-Prince. Protesters continued to
demand the resignation of Haiti’s President Michel Martelly and lower fuel prices after a key Haitian minibus drivers’ union called a two-day general strike on Monday.
US wants to open Cuba
mission by April: officials
he US is pressing Cuba
to allow the opening of
its embassy in Havana by
April, US officials revealed, despite the Communist island’s
demand that it first be removed
from the US list of state sponsors
of terrorism.
A refusal by Cuba to allow the
US to quickly establish an official embassy for the first time in
half a century could complicate
talks between the Cold War foes,
reflecting enduring mistrust
as they move to end decades of
Striking Cuba from the ter-
rorism list could take until June
or longer, although the White
House is pushing officials to
move quickly, said two US officials with direct knowledge of
the state department’s review to
take Cuba off the list.
Washington is eager to reestablish diplomatic ties before
a regional summit in Panama in
April, when President Barack
Obama will meet Cuban leader
Raul Castro for the first time
since 2013, the officials said.
The two leaders announced a
historic deal on December 17 to
restore relations. US and Cuban
diplomats will meet this month
or in early March in Washington
for a second round of talks.
While renewing diplomatic
relations could happen quickly,
the process to normalise, including removing the US trade
embargo, will take far longer.
Cuba has not made removal
from the list a condition for restoring ties, US officials said. But
Havana made clear during the
first round of talks last month
that it first wants to be removed
from the terrorism list.
For Cuba, which considers its
designation an injustice, getting
removed from the list would be
a long-coveted propaganda victory at home and abroad.
Washington placed Cuba on
the list in 1982, citing then president Fidel Castro’s training and
arming of Communist rebels in
Africa and Latin America. The
Police find 61 bodies
in ex-crematorium
The bodies were found after
neighbours complained
about a foul smell coming
from the crematorium,
which was abandoned more
than a year ago
Mexico City
exican police have found
61 bodies, including children, in an abandoned
crematorium in the Pacific resort
of Acapulco, authorities said yesterday.
“We are working on identifying how many children, women
and men” were in the building,
Guerrero state chief prosecutor
Miguel Angel Godinez said, without giving details about the cause
of death.
Acapulco has been beset by drug
gang violence but it was not immediately clear whether the bodies were murder victims or whether the corpses were left there when
the crematorium closed.
“We can’t say for now that there
is an indication that organised
crime participated in this but we
can’t rule it out,” Godinez told Radio Formula.
Forensic experts and investigators are seeking to determine how
long the bodies were left in the
building, he said.
The prosecutor said authorities
may carry out arrests but he declined to give more details.
“We can’t say for now that
there is an indication
that organised crime
participated in this but we
can’t rule it out”
The bodies were found late
Thursday after neighbours complained about a foul smell coming
from the crematorium, which was
abandoned more than a year ago,
a high-ranking state police official
said on condition of anonymity.
The officer said the bodies were
in an advanced state of decay. The
bodies had been covered in lime to
prevent stench and none of them
had been burned, the officer added.
By early yesterday, all the bodies had been removed on stretchers and taken to the local forensic
institute after covering them with
white sheets.
Acapulco was once a favourite
haunt of Hollywood stars, but the
city has lost its flair over the years,
while feuding drug gangs have
turned it into one of Mexico’s most
violent places.
The port is in Guerrero state,
where authorities say 43 college
students were abducted by corrupt police and handed over to
the Guerreros Unidos drug gang,
whose henchmen killed and incinerated the victims.
The aspiring teachers, all young
men, vanished on September 26 in
the city of Iguala, 210kms north of
The Iguala case has sparked
protests and turned into the biggest challenge of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s two-year-old
administration. The case laid bare
Mexico’s deep problem of impunity and corruption and it has
overshadowed his efforts to focus
attention on economic reforms.
list is short: just Iran, Sudan,
Syria and Cuba.
But Cuba’s presence on the list
has been questioned in recent
years. The state department’s
latest annual “Country Reports
on Terrorism” says Cuba has
long provided a safe haven for
members of the Basque separatist group ETA and Colombia’s
left-wing Farc guerrillas.
But ETA, severely weakened
by Spanish and French police,
called a ceasefire in 2011 and has
pledged to disarm. And the Farc
has been in peace talks with the
Colombian government for the
past two years, with Cuba as
Even the state department
acknowledged in its report that
Cuba has made progress. “There
was no indication that the Cuban
government provided weapons
or paramilitary training to terrorist groups,” it said.
Cuba raised this issue before
January’s talks in Havana. A
senior official from Cuba’s foreign ministry told reporters on
January 20 that it was “unfair” to
keep Cuba on the state department’s list.
“We cannot conceive of reestablishing diplomatic relations while Cuba continues to be
included on the list,” the official
told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It doesn’t
make any sense that we re-establish diplomatic relations and
Cuba continues (on the list).”
No sign of ex-spy chief
linked to death case
Buenos Aires
Relatives of some of the 43 trainee teachers who disappeared
four months ago, hold a demonstration in Chilpancingo, Guerrero.
failed to track down a
former spymaster wanted
for questioning over the death of a
prosecutor who had accused President Cristina Fernandez of covering up Iran’s alleged role in the
1994 bombing of a Jewish centre.
Prosecutors were unable to locate ex-counterintelligence boss
Antonio Stiusso at three different
addresses held in his name. One
top official acknowledged the government did not know if Stiusso,
who had been regarded as one of
the most powerful operatives in
Argentina’s leading spy agency,
was even in the country.
Alberto Nisman was found
dead in his apartment on January 18, a day before he was due to
testify about his claim that Fernandez sought to whitewash his
findings that Iran was behind the
attack on the Jewish centre, run by
the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, that killed 85 people in
Buenos Aires. “He was not at any
of the properties registered as his
own,” Oscar Parrilli, head of the
Intelligence Secretariat (SI), told
reporters. Stiusso’s lawyer also
appeared to be in the dark.
“I assume he is in the country,
but I don’t know,” Santiago Blanco
Bermudez told local TV station
Channel 26. Iran has vigorously
denied involvement in the bombing and Fernandez has dismissed
Nisman’s findings as absurd. She
said Nisman was duped by rogue
agents involved in a power struggle and killed when he was no
longer of value to them.
One of those spies was Stiusso,
Fernandez’s government has said.
Fired during a December shake-up
of the SI, Stiusso had helped Nisman with his investigation of the
“I have no doubts that Stiusso is
behind all this, after the decision of
(President Fernandez) to fire him
from the SIDE,” Anibal Fernandez,
the president’s chief of staff, said
on Twitter, referring to the top spy
agency by its former name.
Parrilli said secrecy laws would
be lifted so that investigators
could grill Stiusso fully about the
mysterious events leading up to
Nisman’s death. He said the president wanted “the whole truth to
be known.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Province asks court to lift
ban on hunting rare bird
Man accused of murdering
22 people shot dead
Three-day literature
festival begins in Karachi
KP province jails to have
Aids treatment centres
Pakistan to seek World
Bank loan for helping IDPs
A Pakistani province has asked for a ban on
shooting an endangered bird to be lifted,
an official said yesterday. The high court of
Balochistan province in the southwest last year
banned hunting of the endangered Houbara
(bustard), and cancelled hunting permits issued
by the federal government to foreigners. The
Balochistan government filed a petition in
the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking the
cancellation of the ban, a court official said.
“The Supreme Court has accepted the petition
but it has not taken it up for regular hearing,”
the official said on condition of anonymity.
There was an outcry last year after 2,100
Houbaras were killed. The meat of the rare bird is
considered an aphrodisiac.
A suspected target killer in Pakistan was shot dead
yesterday during an “escape bid”, a day after he
confessed before the media to killing 22 people.
Suspect Obaid Urrehman confessed to killing four
doctors, eight policemen and a number of political
workers in Karachi at a press conference held by
the police on Thursday, Pakistan Today reported.
Yesterday, police claimed that the suspect was
killed in crossfire when he attempted to escape
from police custody and snatched a gun from
a police constable. Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest
city and economic hub, has wrestled for several
years with a wave of criminal, sectarian and
political murders, forcing the authorities to launch
a targeted operation across the city to tackle
criminal elements.
Pakistani authors Intizar Hussain, Bilal Tanweer,
H M Naqvi and Indian authors Nayantara Sahgal
and Arshia Sattar would be part of the Karachi
Literature Festival that began yesterday. More
than 200 speakers, including 37 from nine
countries apart from Pakistan, would express
their views on a variety of topics during the 80plus sessions that will take place over the course
of three days. No fewer than 28 books will also
be launched, with experts shedding light on their
salient features, Dawn reported. Indian author
Benyamin, publisher of a prominent Indian
publication house Karthika V K and Bollywood
actress Tisca Chopra would also be attending the
festival, which will conclude on February 8 at the
Beach Luxury Hotel.
The government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will
establish HIV/Aids screening and treatment centres
in jails to protect inmates from the deadly disease.
Sources say prisoners tested positive for HIV will
get the desired facilities inside jails. The federal
government has approved a request by the provincial
government to establish HIV/Aids treatment centres
for patients in jails after detection of many cases
during the past two years. The proposal has been
included in the five-year (2016-2020) HIV/Aids control
programme to be implemented by National Aids
Control Programme. Currently, the provincial and
federal governments in collaboration with UNAIDS,
UNFA, UN Office on Drug Control and Global Fund are
engaged in formulating HIV/Aids prevention policy to
stem tide of the disease.
The Pakistan government is likely to reach out to the
World Bank for soft loan to pay cash assistance to
the internally displaced persons from the militancystricken tribal areas. In January, the authorities
said repatriation of IDPs from Fata would start by
mid-February. There are over 300,000 families
displaced from different agencies in the tribal areas
due to military operations, mainly from Khyber,
Kurram, Orakzai and South and North Waziristan
agencies. The authority will pay Rs25,000 per family
to the retuning IDPs. Senior officials said discussions
were underway in Islamabad to ask the World Bank
to provide $65mn to support the displaced families,
who would return to their homes. An official said the
government required Rs6bn to pay to IDPs as cash
assistance on return to their homes.
Sharif in fix over
senate election
rime Minister Nawaz
Sharif is in a fix over selection of his party candidates
for the senate election.
Sources say this is especially
so about the chairmanship of
the upper house, as his family wants him to name a female
chairperson while the senior
leadership of his Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is in
favour of appointing someone
from Balochistan.
The elections are slated for
March 3.
Out of 104 senators, 52 are
going to retire on March 11,
including its current chairman Nayyar Bukhari and
deputy chairman Sabir Baloch – both of Pakistan People’s
Sources said the Sharif family
has almost finalised the names
of the senate candidates during
their deliberations in Murree
and Raiwind but they are still
mulling over who to appoint as
the next senate chairman.
The PML-N hopes that it will
bag all 11 seats from Punjab,
around four from Balochistan,
two from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
two from Islamabad and one
from the tribal areas. Out of
Nawaz Sharif ... hard choice
PML-N’s 16 existing senators,
eight are going to retire next
Sources believe that Sharif
and his daughter Maryam are
in favour of Nuzhat Sadiq as
next chairperson of senate.
Sadiq’s father-in-law, Sheikh
Masood, was the finance minister in Ayub Khan’s cabinet.
However Sadiq’s one dilemma
is that she belongs to Punjab.
However, it is said that Sharif’s brother Shahbaz conveyed
to the prime minister the aspirations of the party’s legislators from Balochistan who want
someone from their province
to be named as the next senate
The argument trotted out
goes like this: the party has
given the country’s presidency
to Sindh. The Speaker National
Assembly is from Punjab while
deputy speaker National Assembly is from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Therefore, the
senate chairman should now be
from Balochistan.
According to sources, in view
of the PML-N’s tilt towards Balochistan for picking the next
senate chairman, three major
groups within the PML-N have
started lobbying.
One group is led by former
premier Zafarullah Jamali;
the second group is headed by
party’s Balochistan president
Sanaullah Zehri and the third
group is led by Yaqoob Nasir.
It was revealed that Jamali’s
cousin, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Jan Muhammad,
has called on the Punjab chief
minister and asked him to elevate Jamali as the next senate
Nasir who is going to retire on March 11 is a candidate
for another six years term of
senate and is lobbying for the
The other group led by Zehri and Malik Baloch are campaigning in favour of Lashkari
Raisani. They say Raisani will
be acceptable to PPP as well.
Raisani also remained a PPP
Ghani arrives in Munich
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arriving at Bayerischer Hof hotel for the 51st Munich Security
Conference in Munich yesterday.
Afghan cadets arrive in Pakistan
for training as relations improve
Suspected Taliban fighters arrested
group of Afghan army
cadets has arrived in Pakistan for training at the
country’s military academy, officials said yesterday, as the tense
relationship between the neighbouring countries improves.
Six officers landed in the capital Islamabad on Thursday and
would move to the Pakistan Military Academy in the northern
city of Abbottabad for 18 months
of training, said an army official
in Islamabad who asked not to be
More officers would be sent to
Pakistan for training, said an Afghan security official in Kabul on
condition of anonymity.
Afghan ambassador in Islamabad Janan Mosazai said the
move highlighted improving ties
between the two countries.
“It is an important step in both
countries’ efforts to strengthen,
broaden and deepen security and
military relations and cooperation
in all areas,” the ambassador said.
Pakistan military chief General Raheel Sharif had offered
training to Afghan forces during
his visit to Kabul late last year.
The arrival of the cadets coincides with a visit to Pakistan by
an Afghan military delegation.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have
been trading allegations of using Taliban militants as proxies
against each other, but ties have
improved since a new government
took over in Kabul last year.
Bollywood’s iconic Sholay
set to release in Pakistan
In this photograph taken on February 5, Afghan security personnel presenting four suspected Taliban fighters to the media at the
Afghan National Army headquarters in Jalalabad. The four suspects have been arrested by Afghan Joint Forces during an operation
in the Nazyan district of Nangarhar province.
Quetta mayor vows ‘good governance’
uetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, is infamous for
sheltering Afghan Taliban leaders
and murderers of Hazaras. Only hardcore
political issues and security problems make
news here.
But in the rush of things it is mostly forgotten that Quetta is also a victim of bad
governance, a reputation, says its new mayor Dr Kaleem Ullah, is about to change.
“Quetta needs reshaping,” he says. “The
current infrastructure design is almost as
old as I am,” says Ullah, 77, who was born
in Pishin three years after once nature reshaped Quetta in 1935 when the earth around
it shook, nearly burying the entire town.
After the earthquake, the mayor says,
when the city was designed to function
again, the administrators had 170,000 people in mind and now it has a population of
around 3mn. “This makes the functioning
of the town very difficult.”
Ullah feels he is the right man to get Quetta
out of this mess. He claims he has been serving
the people in different capacities for decades
now. He has served twice as provincial minister
in the mid-90s and runs a health foundation
which has a 200-bed hospital in Quetta.
He joined politics in 1974 and since then
has been a member of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which is currently in power
in the province.
He plans to restore the tax collection
structure. “There is absolutely no system of
tax collection,” he says. He will make sure
that building rules are followed and there is
no room for encroachment. He will work to
protect and preserve the environment and
see that the waste is disposed of properly.
In a province of nationalistic politics
where the names of most parties start with
either the word Baloch or Pakhtun or Hazara, Ullah, a Pakhtun, says his administration will be completely apolitical. “In Quetta, we are a single nation.”
That is why, he says, he will try and
make sure no one is punished for belonging to a particular ethnic or religious group.
“My dream is to see 200 empty beds in my
hospital,” he says, using the idea of no sick
people in his hospital as a metaphor for an
absolutely peaceful Quetta.
In Balochistan where politics and administration are often intertwined, reshaping
the destiny of a town that is prone to manmade and natural disasters will be a formidable task. So, the mayor needs to muster
some strength, and, at the age of 77 years,
he had better hurry.
the owner and managing director of Mandviwalla Entertainment, Pakistan’s
largest entertainment chain,
has said India’s iconic movie
Sholay will be screened in the
country shortly, 40 years after
hitting Indian theatres.
“Sholay is such an iconic film,
it is a classic. But many people
in Pakistan have not seen the
film in cinemas,” he said.
He added that since the movie
has been re-mastered, the time
is right to screen it in cinemas
for Pakistani audiences.
However, Mandviwalla noted that since the classic films
that have been re-released in
Pakistan have not generated
business at the Pakistani box
office, it remains to be seen
whether Sholay can change
that trend.
Previously, movies such as,
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Lion King and
Titanic, have been re-mastered
and re-released in 3D format in
Pakistani cinemas.
Interestingly, Sholay’s release date is the same as that of
the Pakistani crime-caper film
Jalaibee, which has been directed by Yasir Jaswal. Mandviwalla
said this was a strategic move on
their part.
“March 20 would be a long
weekend due to the public
holiday on March 23. Plus, the
movie is releasing towards the
business-end of the ICC Cricket
World Cup, so only a few matches would be left,” he explained.
“We will gain the day (in business) that we lose to a cricket
match through the holiday.”
Directed by Ramesh Sippy,
Sholay boasts a star cast featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya
Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and
Amjad Khan.
The film was ranked first in
the British Film Institute’s 2002
poll of ‘Top 10 Indian Films’ of all
time, according to the institute’s
It was also voted the ‘Best Film
of 50 Years’ at the 50th Filmfare
Awards, as stated on the website
of the annual ceremony.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Aquino demands
rebels surrender
top terror suspect
In a televised address,
the president sought to
calm public outrage over
the death of 44 police
commandos in a chaotic
bloodbath that targeted two
most-wanted terrorists
Banners and placards are displayed during an interfaith prayer rally in Manila yesterday, to support the peace process amid calls to scrap the
peace treaty with rebels.
Insurgents consider returning
high-powered firearms to govt
hilippine rebels said yesterday they were considering returning dozens
of high-powered firearms that
they seized from some of the
44 police commandos killed in
a botched anti-terror operation
in the south.
The gesture would show the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) are committed to a peace
treaty they signed with Manila
last year, the group’s chief peace
negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.
“We are discussing the very
sensitive issue of returning the
firearms.... A decision will be
made very soon,” Iqbal said.
“We are assuring the government that on the part of the
MILF, we did not mean for it
to happen,” he said. “We are in
mourning too. We lost 18 of our
men. We are also in pain.”
Iqbal could not immediately
say how many police guns were
seized by the MILF.
Forty-four police commandos hunting one of the world’s
Beijing urged
to halt
work on reef
he Philippines strongly
urged China to stop reclamation work on a disputed
submerged reef within its exclusive economic zone in the South
China Sea, the foreign ministry
said yesterday.
A Philippine navy commander
said on Thursday that China had
started dredging around the disputed Mischief Reef, signalling
Beijing may be preparing to expand its facilities in the area.
“We strongly urge China to desist from its reclamation activities
at Panganiban Reef,” the foreign
ministry said in a statement, referring to Mischief reef by its Philippine name.
“Under the UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea, the Philippines
has exclusive right to authorise
construction of artificial islands,
installations or other structures in
the vicinity of Panganiban Reef.”
China claims the entire South
China Sea, believed to be rich in
oil and gas deposits. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan
and Vietnam also have claims on
the sea where about $5tn of shipborne trade annually.
Beijing has already undertaken
reclamation work on six other
reefs it occupies in the Spratlys,
expanding land mass five-fold,
aerial surveillance photos show.
Filipino Muslims flash the peace sign, as they attend a rally in front of
the Golden mosque in Manila.
most wanted terrorists were
killed after more than 10 hours
of fighting in remote marshlands in Maguindanao province
on January 25 - the single biggest loss of life among government forces in recent memory.
Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, a
top militant in Southeast Asian
terror group Jemaah Islamiyah
and a key suspect in the 2002
Bali bombings, is believed to
have been killed in the police
assault, according to authorities, citing an initial DNA test
by the FBI.
Zulkifli’s lair was surrounded
by communities controlled by
the MILF and another rebel
group that did not sign the
peace accord, the Bangsamoro
Islamic Freedom Fighters, and
police commandos engaged
both groups. “This is one step
towards accountability,” national police spokesman Generoso Cerbo said when asked to
comment on the MILF’s statement.
“This is a good development,
although it won’t be complete
unless the perpetrators are
identified,” he added.
The Philippine justice department, parliament, and security establishments are conducting parallel investigations
into the incident, which put the
peace treaty in peril and opened
up President Benigno Aquino
to savage criticism. “The peace
process remains on track,
though delayed,” Iqbal said.
The symbolic decommissioning of a first batch of rebel
firearms was scheduled for
March, he said.
The peace deal, aimed at ending a decades-old rebellion that
has claimed more than 120,000
lives, binds Manila to passing a
law that will create an autonomous area in the South and give
the country’s Muslim minority
hilippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday
demanded rebels surrender a top terror suspect who
escaped a bloody police raid or
be “run over” in a government
In a televised address, Aquino
sought to calm public outrage
over the death of 44 police commandos in a chaotic bloodbath
that targeted two most-wanted
Zulkifli bin Hir, better known
as Marwan and a key suspect in
the 2002 Bali bombings, was believed killed in the raid.
Abdul Basit Usman -- accused
of taking part in at least nine
bombings in the Philippines — is
thought to be hiding with rebel
“If Usman is in your territory,
I expect you to surrender him to
authorities, help arrest him, or
don’t interfere in the manhunt,”
Aquino said, addressing the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF). “To those who have lost
their way, who would still stand
in our way, remember this: you
are fighting the state, and we will
run you over,” he said.
The MILF signed a peace treaty with Manila last year aimed
at ending a decades-old rebellion that has claimed more than
120,000 lives. “May this serve
as a warning and a reminder:
we will get Usman, whatever
you decide, regardless of who
provides a safe haven for him,
regardless of where he may be
hiding,” he said. Aquino has
been heavily criticised over the
botched January 25 raid on the
southern island of Mindanao
which descended into chaos
when police were ambushed by
rebel forces, including members
of the MILF.
Usman, charged in Philippine courts over bombings since
2003, is believed to have links
to the Southeast Asian militant
Watchdog calls for exclusion of
Smartmatic ‘for honest 2016 polls’
By Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
he watchdog, Citizens
for Clean and Credible
Elections (C3E) has appealed to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on
the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) to exercise its
oversight powers and compel
the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) to disqualify Smartmatic from taking part in any
aspect of preparations for the
2016 polls.
C3E co-convenor Melchor
Magdamo made the appeal on
Thursday at the resumption
of JCOC hearings on alleged
anomalies in use of Precinct
Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
machines, pointing to more
compelling reasons why the
government should get rid of
Smartmatic to ensure honest
and transparent elections next
On top of allegedly countless violations of election laws,
Magdamo said Smartmatic
should also be declared an undesirable foreign company
for being untruthful about its
corporate identity, after it was
found to be controlled by the
government of Venezuela.
“Not only should Smartmatic be made liable and expelled
for violation of our election and
procurement laws, it should
also be made accountable for
thwarting the true will of the
people,” he added. Magdamo
was referring to inaccurate vote
counts of the PCOS machines
and their possible manipulation when security features
were disabled prior to the 2013
Smartmatic also on Thursday dismissed the allegations
hurled against it by C3E as it
expressed confidence that the
Supreme Court (SC) will affirm the decision of the Comelec to award the company the
P268mn diagnostics, repair and
replacement deal.
Cesar Flores, Smartmatic
president for Asia-Pacific, said
groups critical of the Venezuelan firm should be cited for contempt for filing the same cases
that were dismissed by the High
Tribunal twice.
“The Supreme Court has on
two occasions ruled with finality that the contracts and the
bids that Smartmatic has won
were fair, legal and advantageous to the country,” Flores
He maintained that the PCOS
machines that Smartmatic
manufactured for the Comelec
are the same model of machines
currently in use in New York,
as well as several provinces in
Canada, with excellent reception from political parties and
Without identifying any
group, Flores also expressed
suspicion that some Smartmatic critics may be fronts
for rival firms or groups, who
are seeking to corner a P2bn
Comelec contract while posing
as crusaders for clean and honest elections.
Smartmatic belied an alleged midnight deal with the
Comelec, payoffs to poll officials and planned rigging of the
2016 elections, saying it would
abandon its bids for any Comelec project if the rival firms or
groups came up with proof to
back their accusations.
Apparently showing support
for the Venezuelan firm, poll
chief Sixto Brillantes Jr also on
Thursday said they were able
to negotiate a better deal with
Smartmatic, for rehabilitation
and repair of more than 80,000
PCOS machines used in the
2010 and 2013 national elections.
But Sen. Aquilino Pimentel
said the issue on whether the
deal, signed by Brillantes three
days before his retirement as
Comelec chairman on February
2, is legal is yet to be resolved by
the SC.
During the JCOC-AES hearing, Brillantes said the poll body
in its negotiations with Smartmatic was able to technically
bring down the P1.2bn deal
for diagnostics, repair and refurbishment of the PCOS machines by more than half.
The PCOS rehabilitation
contract originally had two
stages: examination, diagnostics and minor repairs of the
PCOS machines for P300mn;
and repair and replacement
of damaged machines for
Under the new deal, Smartmatic agreed to bring the
P300mn diagnostic contract to
P240mn (P268mn with Value
Added Tax) and, unlike with
the original deal that only covers diagnosis and minor repair,
it now includes all repairs, replacement of damage spare
parts and replacement of nonrepairable PCOS machines.
The replacement of the
non-repairable machines only
covers 4% or about 3,280 of
the 82,000 PCOS machines
currently in the Comelec’s inventory.
“In my own analysis of the
P240mn contract, the Comelec not only managed to expand the coverage of the rehabilitation works but may have
also dispensed with Stage 2,
since it is already covered by
the new deal,” Brillantes said.
But aside from the PCOS rehabilitation contract, the poll
body still needs to resolve the
issue about the digital lines in
the ballots that were produced
by some of the PCOS machines during the 2013 midterm elections.
Digital lines are vertical
lines produced by the machines that are only visible on
the digital image of the ballots.
They were discovered by a
technical evaluation committee from the Department of
Science and Technology.
President Benigno Aquino addressing the nation in a live telecast from
Malacanang Palace in Manila.
group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and
the local Abu Sayyaf outfit. The
US government is offering a
$1mn reward for his capture.
DNA analysis by the FBI indicated that Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli, a top JI militant and
a key suspect in the 2002 Bali
bombings that killed 202 people,
was killed, Manila said. The US
had offered a $5mn bounty for
The bloodshed threatens not
only the peace treaty, but Aquino’s hold on power as it has left
security forces demoralised said
Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Manila-based Institute
for Political and Electoral Reform.
“It’s the biggest political crisis he has faced. The survival of
his administration, his legacy,
and the peace process are all at
stake,” Casiple said.
“This can cost him his life.
This is a very dangerous situation because he picked a fight
with his bodyguards... It’s a terrifying situation,” he said.
The Philippines has a long
history of military uprisings, including two that toppled presidents Ferdinand Marcos in 1986
and Joseph Estrada in 2001.
Aquino was ambushed in a
failed coup against his mother,
democracy icon Corazon Aquino
in 1987. A bullet from the attack
remains lodged in his neck.
Aquino tried to calm the furore during his speech yesterday,
pledging support for the slain
police officers’ widows and orphans.
“I am the father of this coun-
try and 44 of my children were
killed. They can no longer be
brought back. This tragedy happened during my term, and I will
carry this to the end of my days,”
he said.
The president was savagely
criticised after he skipped arrival
honours for the policemen’s remains at Manila airport. He also
arrived late to funeral services
the following day.
“He has gone from one
blunder to another... This is a
slow-burning crisis that is very
difficult to stop because the sacrifices involved are massive,”
Casiple said.
Aquino said he made his own
informal investigation into the
incident and found that the
situation on the ground was
“vastly different” than expected during planning.
He also announced yesterday
the resignation of national police chief Alan Purisima, who
oversaw the police assault.
Zulkifli’s death was the
“most significant terrorist kill
in recent years,” said international terrorism expert Rohan
Gunaratna, of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Jakarta-based security
analyst Sidney Jones agreed
Zulkifli was a “big name”, but
said his death would not have
a huge impact on the new generation of fighters.
“It’s symbolic because he
was one person who always
seemed to evade capture,” said
Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of
Customs bureau warns public
against online ‘love scams’
Single men and women who
are searching for love online
have been warned by the
Bureau of Customs (BOC)
against “love scammers,” an
Internet scam, which extorts
money using the name of
the bureau from unsuspecting victims, Manila Times
Customs Commissioner John
Sevilla issued the warning for
the public, to be aware of the
online syndicate using the
name of the BOC and continue to receive reports of
the presence of such scam.
“We are continuously receiving reports not only here
in Manila but also from our
provincial collection districts.
However, very seldom do we
receive official complaints,
just phone calls from the
victims that they have been
scammed. But they don’t
leave information. Maybe
they are not comfortable
talking about their predicament due to its sensitive nature,” he said in a statement.
The BOC head said that the
modus operandi starts with
the ‘love scammer’ introducing himself as a foreigner
from either Australia, United
Kingdom or the US getting in touch with their
prospective victims online
using social networking
sites like Facebook, Internet
chat rooms or other dating
sites.After befriending the
victims online for several
weeks or months they would
send a message that they
have sent a box containing
expensive gifts like designer
bags, jewellery, gadgets like
laptops and smartphones via
international door-to-door
parcel complete with tracking number and invoice for
the supposed shipment.
The victims, after several
days would then receive an
email, a phone call, or a text
allegedly from an officer or
an employee of the BOC
informing them that package
was held in Customs, and
that it would be sent to them
only after they pay duties
and taxes to be deposited in
a designated bank account
or money transfer service.
The ‘BOC official’ would even
provide details of the breakdown of customs duties and
taxes as proof.
However, even after depositing the money, the victims
would never get their packages.
Sevilla noted that the bureau
does not call, text or email
recipients of parcels, as they
will co-ordinate with the
consolidator, forwarder or
courier, if there are problems
regarding the packages.“BOC
does not also give assessments and computations of
duties and taxes by email or
text. These are computed
and written on official BOC
document that are payable
only to the bureau and not
through any bank or money
transfer service,” Sevilla said.
He added: “We urge the public
to be more vigilant against
these scams. Prior to making
any payment, we advise recipients of emails purportedly
sent by the BOC to inquire first
through our public assistance
contact channels.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Dhaka curbs
entry into 3
hill districts
By Mizan Rahman
PREOTEST AGAINST BLOCKADE: Protesters hold placards as they sit during a rally organised by the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB) against an ongoing blockade called by
the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance, in Dhaka yesterday.
Opposition activists
killed in Bangladesh
US voices grave concern
about the unrest that has
claimed 65 lives and slams
spate of “unconscionable”
wo more opposition activists were killed in a new
bout of political violence
in Bangladesh yesterday after
the US voiced grave concern
about the unrest and slammed
a spate of “unconscionable”
Police shot dead an Islamist protester from the Jamaate-Islami party and wounded
two more after they threw a
molotov cocktail at a police
van in Rajshahi, northwest of
Dhaka, after midnight yesterday, local police chief Alamgir
Hossain said.
“Three police constables were
injured in the clashes,” he added.
Another Jamaat supporter
was killed in the western city of
Jessore during a shootout with
officers, police told reporters.
Rights groups say the shootouts are fake and are nothing
but cold-blooded executions of
opposition activists.
A total of 65 people have been
killed in political violence in the
last month, according to an AFP
tally, as an opposition alliance
tries to force the resignation of
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Many of the victims have been
travelling on trains or buses that
have been firebombed by opposition activists as part of an
ongoing transport blockade designed to bring the government
to its knees.
The US State Department issued a statement late on Thursday saying there could be “no justification” for such violence while
also calling on the government
to allow peaceful protests.
“The United States is gravely
concerned by the ongoing unrest and violence in Bangladesh,” deputy state department
spokesperson Marie Harf said in
the statement.
“We deplore the uncon-
scionable attacks including bus
burnings, throwing incendiary
devices, and train derailments
that have killed and wounded
innocent victims.
“There is simply no justification for such actions in a democratic Bangladesh,” she added,
urging the government “to provide the necessary space for
peaceful political activity”.
The unrest began when security forces confined main
opposition leader Khaleda Zia
to her offices after she threatened to lead a mass rally against
Hasina’s government on January 5, the first anniversary of
disputed polls.
A confined Zia then called
for a nationwide blockade of
roads, railways and waterways
in an effort to topple Hasina’s
government and pave the way
for new polls under a neutral
The blockade unleashed unprecedented violence with antigovernment protesters targeting
buses and trucks with petrol
The government has deployed
thousands of security forces
nationwide and arrested some
10,000 protesters as part of a
crackdown on the unrest.
Thousands more demonstrators have gone into hiding and
Zia has remained holed up in her
office, after her Internet, mobile
phone and satellite television
connections were cut.
angladesh has restricted
movement of foreigners
in three southeastern
hill districts of the country
where tribal insurgency is still
The districts — Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Rangamati - comprise the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)
where a two-decades old tribal insurgency left an estimated
20,000 killed.
“If anyone with a foreign
passport now wants to visit
Rangamati, Khagrachhari and
Bandarban districts, they will
have to submit an application to the home ministry at
least a month before the intended visit,” it was officially
announced in Dhaka.
“The home ministry will
give the permission based on
positive reports of the intelligence agencies concerned,”
states a government order,
containing 11-point decisions
on the CHT affairs.
As for the diplomats, they
will have to seek permission
from the foreign ministry.
The order has recently
been sent to the CHT district
needed permission only from
the district administration
concerned. But there was no
timeframe for submitting the
Under the new government measures, if any foreigner wants to talk to a
member of the tribal communities in the region,
they will have to do so in
presence of army, Border
Guard Bangladesh or local
administration personnel.
The order contained the
meeting minutes in which
the representative of an intelligence agency was quoted
Lanka backtracks on Chinese Tiger nations
port after opposition protest agree to set up
ri Lanka reversed approval for a controversial
$1.4bn Chinese portrelated project after the main
Marxist party raised objections
yesterday, a day after giving it
the all clear.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government would thoroughly review the project involving the
reclamation of 233 hectares
(583 acres) of land next to a
Chinese-owned mega port in
He told parliament yesterday
that two committees of experts
would carry out a probe. The
project had been approved by
the previous regime of Mahinda Rajapakse who had been
accused of corruption.
“I got down all the files relating to this project,” the premier
said. “When I inspected them, I
found that all the required reports are not there. There is a
deficiency in the environment
impact assessment.”
His remarks came after the
opposition JVP, or People’s
Liberation Front, strongly objected to the cabinet approving the project, which is Sri
Lanka’s single largest foreign
Following concerns by the
JVP, which provided crucial support for the victory of
President Maithripala Sirisena
at January 8 elections while
remaining an opposition party,
prompted the government to
reconsider its stand, official
sources said.
The JVP noted that the
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, right, shakes hands with the visiting Chinese special
envoy Liu Jianchao in Colombo yesterday. The meeting took place a day after Sri Lanka’s new
government gave the green light for China’s $1.4bn port project in the capital despite warnings while
in opposition that it would scrap the controversial venture.
self had raised objections on
environmental grounds.
“We will inquire and then
... take a decision,” the prime
minister said without setting a
deadline for the investigation.
Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne had announced
on Thursday that the project
was not harmful to the environment and therefore it would go
The uncertainty over the
project came as Beijing sent a
special envoy, Liu Jianchao, for
talks with Sri Lankan leaders,
including President Sirisena
yesterday, officials said. Details
of the talks were not disclosed.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister
Mangala Samaraweera is due
to visit Beijing later this month
while Sirisena is to make a state
visit to China in March.
Launched under the previous government during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s
visit to Colombo in September, the project gives Beijing a
firmer foothold in the Indian
Ocean region, a development
that neighbouring India is
uncomfortable with.
Beijing has been accused
of seeking to develop facilities around the Indian Ocean
in a “string of pearls” strategy
to counter the rise of its Asian
rival India and secure its own
economic interests.
Sri Lanka is a midway point on
one of the world’s busiest international shipping lanes that Beijing wants to secure as a maritime
silk road for the 21st century.
hirteen countries which
are home to the world’s
population of wild tigers yesterday
agreed to establish an intelligence-sharing network to
fight traffickers, concluding an
anti-poaching conference in
Around 100 experts, government and law enforcement officials attended the
five-day summit, co-hosted
by Nepal and conservation group WWF to hammer
out a regional plan to fight
poaching in Asia.
“We cannot allow wildlife
crime to continue to wrap its
tentacles deeper into the region,” said Tikaram Adhikari,
director general of Nepal’s
department of national parks
and wildlife conservation.
“Our individual efforts may
win us a few battles, but we
can only win the war only if
Asia presents a united front
to stop the poaching, end the
trafficking and wipe out demand,” Adhikari said in a press
Nepal has twice been recognised for going a full year
with no poaching incidents
involving tigers, while the
population of the endangered
cats rose almost two thirds
between 2009 and 2013.
David Lawson of WWF’s
Tigers Alive Initiative said the
network of national liaison officers would “help countries
communicate better with each
other, build trust and deepen
co-operation which is essential to win the fight against
“Asian governments need
to recognise that we are in
the midst of a poaching crisis
and that this theft of natural
resources must be stopped,”
Lawson said.
Decades of trafficking and
habitat destruction have
slashed the global tiger population from 100,000 a century
ago to approximately 3,000,
according to the International
Union for the Conservation of
Poachers hunt the animal
for its bones, which used to
be an ingredient of traditional
Chinese medicine, its pelt,
which can fetch up to $16,000
on the black market, and its
penis, believed to increase
male sexual performance.
Countries with tiger populations — Bangladesh, Bhutan,
China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam—in 2010
launched a plan to double their
numbers by 2022.
as saying: “Foreign nationals
travel to the CHT as guests of
some locals if they can’t secure
permission from the ministry
or the authorities concerned
... Their main objective is to
have the tribal communities
recognised as the indigenous.”
The decisions on foreigners’ entry have already taken
effect, Superintendent Devdas
Bhattacharya of Bandarban
police told newsmen.
The home ministry also requested the CHT affairs ministry to submit a report on the
implementations and outcomes of “$160mn development projects by the UNDP in
the last 10 years”.
In other decisions, the NGO
Affairs Bureau has been asked
to change the name of the
CHT Commission, replacing “Commission” with some
other name as “it has no legal
Mizanul Haque Chowdhury, deputy commissioner
(DC) of Bandarban, said he has
received the order.
“Our duty is to implement
the orders,” the DC said.
bush war ended in 1996 following a peace treaty signed
by the then government of
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
with tribals grouped under
the Parbatya Chattagram Jana
Sanghati Samity (PCJSS),
another tribal outfit styled
United People’s Democratic
Front (UPDF) opposed to the
treaty is still engaged in occasional firing in the rugged but
resource-rich region.
PCJSS chief Shantu Larma
still alleges that the 1996
peace treaty is yet to be implemented giving an autonomous status to the hilly region. He has also threatened to
resume bush war.
The CHT is populated by
over 600,000 Bengali settlers and 500,000 tribals of 13
ethnic groups.
arrested in
Nepal for
fficials at Nepal’s Tribhuvan
Airport (TIA) have arrested a man who was allegedly
trying to smuggle in 12kg of gold
from the United Arab Emirates, immigration officials said
Nepalese national Bodharaj Paudel, who landed at
the airport at around 4pm on
Wednesday, was arrested by security personnel during the security clearance at the TIA immigration counter, Xinhua news
agency reported.
According to officials, Paudel
was arrested when 12 kg of gold
was found in his luggage after
he arrived at Kathmandu from
the UAE by a Qatar Airways
Paudel had left for the UAE
some five years ago for work.
Talking to media at the airport
after his arrest, Paudel claimed
innocence and said it was a conspiracy against him upon his
arrival in Nepal from the UAE.
“The gold doesn’t belong
to me. I am innocent. I didn’t
know why it was in my bag,” he
The immigration officials
have begun investigations after
taking him into custody.
Smuggling of gold from the
Gulf countries to India via Nepal has been increasing in recent
years, Nepalese immigration
officials said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
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Fax 44350474
Obama and new Greek
govt fighting the same
fight against austerity
President Barack Obama’s weighing in on Greece’s
side as it fights to lighten its bailout terms reflects both
his own economic policy beliefs but also fears that
Europe could plunge back into crisis.
“You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in
the midst of depression,” Obama told CNN recently, in
comments that resonated through Greece, where a new
anti-austerity government has just taken power and is
challenging the rules of the country’s financial rescue.
“At some point, there has to be a growth strategy in
order for them to pay off their debts,” he said.
Obama’s comments should not be surprising. It is not
the first time he has called for the groups holding some
315bn euros ($361bn) of Greek debt to allow the country
to slow reforms and spend more.
Obama has fought austerity pressures at home for six
years as he sought to bring the country back from the
Great Recession of 2008-2009.
His administration borrowed hundreds of billions of
dollars to support banks and auto companies and keep
the economy growing. Republicans fought that all the
way, attacking the White House for running up the
country’s debts, while some progressive economists still
say it was not enough.
Meanwhile, the president regularly reminded
Europeans that severely
cutting back spending
was not the way to
restore growth and
create jobs.
“President Obama
knows first-hand how
damaging austerity
can be to an economy
that is suffering from inadequate demand. That’s why
he pushed a big Keynesian-style stimulus in 2009,”
says David Wessel of the Brookings Institution in
But the timing of Obama’s comments on Greece is
surprising, since the new government is in the middle
of a showdown over loan terms with the troika of
official creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the
European Central Bank and the European Commission.
In fact, he spoke out one day before releasing his
own annual budget proposal, which challenged the
Republican-controlled US Congress to loosen the
government’s purse strings and commit to more
spending that would strengthen US growth.
It is natural for Obama to endorse a reduction in
austerity in Greece if he is campaigning for the same in
the US, say analysts.
Washington too wants to avoid another crisis in
Europe that could come about if Greece’s funding
agreements with the troika break down. That could
plunge the eurozone back into a crisis which would
further shake the global economy.
But the latest developments in Greece point to a
looming showdown.
The EU portion of Greece’s EU-IMF bailout is due to
expire February 28, leaving just weeks for Athens and
Brussels to reach a compromise or risk a default that
could send Greece crashing out of the euro.
Greece’s eurozone partners yesterday gave the new
Athens government five days to come up with a plan to
renegotiate its foreign loans, after a week of intense EU
meetings failed to secure a breakthrough.
South Korea must find ways to
start its new growth engines
Stricter rules are needed
to improve corporate
governance and prevent
unfair practices by those
affiliated with the chaebols
By Lee Jong-Wha
n the last half-century, South
Korea has become a model for
developing countries, with
remarkable economic growth
enabling it to become the world’s
eighth largest trading country and
achieve per capita income of $26,000.
But lately its economy has been
faltering, with GDP growth averaging
3.6% for the last 10 years – a
significant drop from the 8.1% annual
growth rate that prevailed in 19652005. And the OECD projects a further
decline – to around 2.5% – in the
coming decade.
But a forecast is not fate. With
a new economic strategy that
nurtures more diversified sources of
growth, while reducing the country’s
excessive reliance on exports and
large enterprises, South Korea can
reinvigorate and sustain strong
South Korea’s economic
performance over the last 50 years
was attributed largely to good
fundamentals, including a high savings
rate, strong human capital, sound
institutions and prudent fiscal and
monetary management.
Trade openness provided access to
inexpensive imported intermediate
goods, larger markets, and advanced
technologies, thereby contributing
to rapid productivity growth in the
country’s manufacturing industries.
Performance-based incentives
facilitated the continuous upgrading of
South Korea’s comparative advantage
in global markets.
The problem is that such policies
have led South Korea to become
excessively dependent on exports for
growth. Exports accounted for about
56% of South Korea’s gross national
income in 2013, compared to 34% in
2002 and just 15% in 1970.
As a result, South Korea’s economy
has become highly vulnerable to
changes in external demand – a fact
that became starkly apparent during
the 2008 global economic crisis.
South Korea’s relationship with
China perfectly illustrates the
challenges it faces. As China’s
economic growth soared, so did its
share of South Korea’s total exports,
which doubled, from 12% to 24%, in
the period from 2001 to 2013.
South Korea is
at a crossroads
But China’s economy has recently
begun to slow, and its growth
trajectory is expected to be much less
steep in the coming years than it was
over the last three decades.
Moreover, China is posing
increasingly tough competition for
South Korea, by encouraging the
emergence of more technologically
advanced industries like electronics,
information technology, motor
vehicles, semiconductors,
shipbuilding, and high-end steel
China’s efforts to upgrade its own
growth model, together with the
possibility of long-term stagnation
among advanced economies, raises
serious concerns about South Korea’s
Compounding these problems is the
wide imbalance between South Korea’s
manufacturing and services sectors.
Though services account for 76%
of employment, its contribution to
overall economic growth is small,
owing to low productivity.
Indeed, value added per worker in
the services sector remains just 40% of
that in the manufacturing sector, and
annual productivity growth was only
2% from 1980 to 2010 – significantly
lower than the manufacturing sector’s
rate of 8.2%.
Against this background, South
Korea’s new growth strategy should
aim to achieve both a demandside rebalancing and supply-side
productivity increases.
On the demand side, South Korea
must begin by boosting household
expenditure. This will require reversing
the sharp decline in the proportion of
middle-income households, which is
down to 67.5%, from 75.4% in 1990.
With more than half of these
households earning less than they
spend every month, household debt
has been rising fast, and now stands
above 160% of disposable income –
one of the highest levels in the OECD.
Transferring unused corporate
savings to households, while reducing
the number of low-wage temporary
and part-time workers, would boost
domestic demand and reduce income
Policies aimed at increasing female
labor-force participation and lowering
private education spending would also
At the same time, South Korea
should work to improve the investment
climate to raise the quantity and
quality of investment, particularly of
small- and medium-size enterprises
(SMEs) in the services industry.
On the supply side, structural
reforms to stimulate productivity
growth could, for example, emphasise
the development of modern services
industries, including health care,
education, telecommunications,
business processing, and legal and
financial services.
Efforts to ease product
regulations and lower barriers to
foreign investment would promote
competition and technological
South Korea must also dismantle
the obstacles that start-up businesses
face. To this end, the government
must redress shortcomings in the
venture-capital market, nurture the
labour force’s skills, and encourage
It must also confront the huge,
family-controlled chaebols – such
as Hyundai, LG, and Samsung
– that contributed significantly
to rapid industrialisation and
technological advancement but also
block competition from start-ups
and SMEs, stifling dynamism and
Stricter rules are needed to improve
corporate governance and prevent
unfair practices by those affiliated with
the chaebols.
South Korea is at a crossroads.
Though President Park Geun-hye’s
administration, which took office in
2013, has unveiled many economic
initiatives to foster a “creative
economy”, their effect so far has been
But her government still has
three years to pursue reforms that
support the emergence of the services
sector, start-ups, and SMEs as South
Korea’s new growth engines, capable
of powering a more dynamic and
innovative economy for the next 30
years. - Project Syndicate
zLee Jong-Wha, professor of economics
and Director of the Asiatic Research
Institute at Korea University, was
a senior adviser for international
economic affairs to former President Lee
Myung-bak of South Korea.
The latest
in Greece point
to a looming
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2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved
Jordanian students shouting slogans during a rally against the Islamic State (IS) group and in reaction to the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh by the
group’s militants. Kassasbeh was captured in December after being shot down near Raqqa in northern Syria and a rescue operation came too slowly to save him.
IS killing of pilot puts pressure on rescue ops
By Michel Moutot
he horrifying images of
a Jordanian pilot burned
alive by the Islamic State
(IS) group have put added
pressure on the US to ensure rapid
rescue operations for its partners.
US officials confirmed last month
that the United Arab Emirates
had pulled out of the US-led air
campaign over concerns about rescue
According to a report in the New
York Times, the UAE has demanded
that the America relocate its US
Combat Search and Rescue Team,
currently based in Kuwait, closer to
the conflict zone in northern Iraq.
Its concerns were triggered by the
capture of Jordanian pilot Maaz alKassasbeh, and will only have been
sharpened by the horrifying death
depicted in the Islamic State video
released this week.
Kassasbeh was captured in
December after being shot down
near Raqqa, the de facto capital of
the Islamic State group in northern
Syria, and a rescue operation came too
slowly to save him.
His fate will be playing on the minds
of pilots throughout the coalition, said
a former French intelligence chief,
speaking anonymously.
“Pilots are people
like anyone else,
not robots”
“Images like that certainly hurt
morale,” he said.
“Pilots are people like anyone else,
not robots. They know they are taking
risks flying over these hostile zones,
but after this, they will think twice.”
General Gilles Desclaux, who was
head of operations for France’s air
force until 2011, said the incident
would undoubtedly play on pilots’
minds but “they are psychologically
In his day, Desclaux said, pilots
wrestled with the possibility they
might be ordered to drop a nuclear
bomb - a task that meant “no hope
of returning” - but that fear was
something they were trained to
“For a while now, this war has not
been a gentleman’s affair. In the past,
pilots who were shot down would be
captured and placed in detention,”
said the former intelligence chief.
“All that is finished. Now, it’s
barbarity, especially in these
asymmetrical wars. The pilots know
that if they go down in the heart of
the conflict, their lives are not worth
Since the Vietnam war, when
captured troops faced horrific ordeals,
the US military has made an absolute
priority of rescue procedures, which
has since spread to other modern
Aircraft carry two positioning
beacons that are automatically
launched when a pilot ejects, and are
picked up by surveillance planes that
are constantly flying over the conflict
As soon as the pilot is located, a
race against time starts. Specialised
air commandos are mobilised in
helicopters, with back-up from fighter
jets, but it can still take hours for them
to reach the crash site.
The US often uses its V-22 Osprey
hybrid aircraft - that land like a
helicopter and fly like a plane - and it
is these that the UAE has demanded be
stationed nearer to the fighting.
In addition, patrol planes fire on
anything that approaches the ejected
pilot in order to protect him.
Pilots are trained to hide as best as
possible during the day and move, if
necessary, at night.
“Even before an air mission is
carried out, the first thing we think of
is the rescue operation. But doing that
in a zone controlled by IS is extremely
hard,” the former intelligence chief
“A coalition partner can refuse to
put its pilots in danger if there isn’t a
credible rescue procedure in place.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
One Europe but different perceptions
Threatened by deflation,
populism and radicalism,
Europe is as challenged now
as it’s ever been
By Dominique Moïsi
he European Central Bank
(ECB) is “firing up the
printing press” to fight
the risks of deflation.
Greece, now with a radical left-wing
government, is rejecting austerity.
Europe seems to be once again at a
For some, this convergence of “a
weak euro and strong radicalism” only
confirms the inevitable decline of the
Old Continent.
Many are joining the we-told-youso crowd. People from the right to
the left of the Anglo-Saxon political
and intellectual sphere, from Martin
Feldstein to Joseph Stiglitz, have
disapproved of the euro for a long
But others, on the contrary, believe
that these recent events demonstrate
that Europe is entering a new
chapter and conveying its capacity to
overcome the toughest storms.
Europe, once again, showed it could
face its problems with resiliency
and pragmatism, with courage and
To describe this unique capacity, the
English would use the term “muddling
through”, an expression that suggests
things eventually work out. Some
are even more optimistic, and are
starting to talk about Europe as a “reemerging” power.
Will historians describe tomorrow’s
Europe as they did yesterday’s China
— a “returning” power that finds the
keys of its recovery in the roots of its
ECB president Mario Draghi: Europe is not only a good deal. It is also still, despite itself and its recent vicissitudes, a model when it comes to social and health protection.
past? How do things really stand?
Should Europe really be
compared to an elderly and haggard
grandmother, as Pope Francis recently
did, or to a phoenix rising once again
from its ashes? There’s no impartial
answer to this question.
But we can find in the perspectives
of others useful insights and ideas
about ourselves.
How does the world see Europe
in early 2015? What is the main
impression: fear, hope, resentment or,
more profoundly, indifference toward
a continent that now only represents
about 7% of the global population? In
reality, it’s all a question of geography,
if not history. It’s almost possible to
say, admittedly narcissistically, “Tell
me what you think of Europe, and I’ll
tell you who you are.”
Seen from China, Europe is
simultaneously a good opportunity,
a complicated model to follow, a
historical and political warning, the
scar of a painful humiliation and, on
the other extreme, a museum of the
art of living.
Is investing in Europe, especially
since the euro’s recent spectacular fall,
not always tempting for the Chinese,
or investors from the rest of the world?
The risk-taking is less important than
in countries such as Venezuela or even
in continents like Africa.
Of course, Europe isn’t the peaceful
haven it seemed to be yesterday.
Putin’s real or feigned irrationality,
the fanaticism of a few thousand
lost young people who plan to give
meaning to their lives through a
culture of death, the rise of populism
- all this means that it’s no longer
possible to ignore the geopolitical risk
that Europe has become again.
But are these risks not secondary
compared to those in numerous areas
across the globe? Europe is not only a
good deal. It is also still, despite itself
and its recent vicissitudes, a model
when it comes to social and health
Beyond the vision of what Europe
is today, has the reminder of what it
was yesterday not also been the most
profitable warning for Asia?
After last year, which was
particularly rich in historical
commemorations, tension has calmed
in the South China Sea between the
Japanese and Chinese. Everything is
happening as if Asia refused to commit
the same mistakes as Europe, even
though a reconciliation based on the
French-German model is not on the
If Putin’s Russia seems ever more
Asian in its way of working in the eyes
of Europe, Moscow envisions Europe
as always more decadent and “morally
corrupt” (but not financially corrupt,
of course) compared to the purity of
“Russian civilisation”.
Concerning America, it’s a
completely different perspective.
Europe is no longer a warning, but
a historical reminder, like a spedup film passing before its eyes. The
perspective, for historical and cultural
reasons, is a lot closer. Details are
emerging as if they were coming under
a magnifying glass.
And its national components,
instead of Europe itself, are
dominating: Berlin facing its
responsibilities, Paris facing
terrorism, Athens facing populism,
Moscow facing its demons.
For Africans risking their lives to
cross the Mediterranean, Europe is
still seen as a hopeful refuge.
As important as it may be, the
perspective of others will not be
enough for Europe to find itself. It
would be a shame if ECB president
Mario Draghi’s audacity was used
as an alibi for the absence of real
reforms.- Worldcrunch/Les Echos
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Company obligations after ownership change
A company ownership’s
transfer shall not affect
the terms and conditions
of its employees
By Nizar Kochery
QUESTION: I have been working
with a company for the last
six years after transferring my
sponsorship to it. My sponsor has
sold the company now. As I would
like to move on, can I change my
sponsorship once again? If I resign
before the completion of one year
from my last annual leave, will I
be entitled for airline ticket for
going home? Is there a legal basis
for the new owners’ claim of the
company’s obligations being
limited to the period since their
takeover? Am I entitled to receive
my service certificate on my
TR, Doha
ANSWER: Sponsorship change is
still at the discretion of the employer
and transfer of ownership shall not
affect the terms and conditions of the
employee. The terminal benefits will
be calculated from entry in service and
upon termination of the employment
contract, employer is under obligation
to repatriate the employee by making
travel arrangements. There is no
minimum period of service specified
in the law for entitlement of ticket.
Companies are required by law
to issue experience certificates
to workers and to return their
certificates, documents, etc. which the
worker deposited with the employer
while entry in service.
According to Article 53, employers
shall issue free of charge the worker
upon his demand, a service certificate
indicating the date of entry in service,
the date of expiry of employment, the
nature of work and the amount of wage,
etc upon expiry of the service contract.
Q: Though we are partners in a
company our names are not in the
registration documents. When we
formed the company we included
few of our friends as joint partners
(A, B and C jointly represented
by) connected to the company in
such a way that they hold shares in
joint name. Now individually each
secondary partner is approaching
us on different issues. affecting the
smooth operations. What is the
law for joint ownership of shares?
SB, Doha
A: According to commercial
companies law, in the event that a
share is owned by several persons the
company may suspend the enjoyment
of rights attached thereto until the
owners of the share elect one of them
who may be considered as a sole
owner in respect of dealings with the
company. The company may fix a
date for these owners to complete the
election. In the event the owners fail
to elect a sole owner by the fixed date,
the company may sell the share for
the benefit of its owners, and in which
case, the company shall offer the share
to the existing partners and then to
third parties.
refer the matter to arbitration.
Conversely, if the defendant fails to
object and refer to the arbitration
clause at the court hearing, the court
will assume that the arbitration
clause has been waived by both
parties and will continue with the
resolution of the dispute through
litigation. The plaintiff in such
approach may lose the court fees and
advocacy charges if the defendant
successfully raises the arbitration
clause defense at the hearing.
Clause of
Q: What are the employer’s
obligations of in the event of an
accident at site? How will salary
be paid? What are the employee’s
legal rights if there is no workmen
KL, Doha
Q: Our contract is with arbitration
clause. We are in the court now
to resolve an issue. How legally
correct is this issue?
AJ, Doha
A: Proceedings in the case will be
subject to the defendant expressly
referring to the arbitration clause
at the court hearing. Upon the
defendant so doing, the court will
Work injury and
employee rights
A: According to Article 108 of the
Labour Laws, if the worker sustains
a work injury, the employer shall
immediately notify the police and the
Department Of Labour of the incident.
The notification shall include a brief
description of the incident, the
circumstance where it took place and
the actions taken for aiding or curing
the worker.
The police shall undertake
necessary enquiries and on
completion of the inquiry send a copy
of the record to the Department of
Labour and a copy to the employer.
The worker who sustains a work
injury shall be entitled to receive
medical treatment appropriate to his
condition at the cost of the employer
in accordance with the decision of the
competent medical authority.
The worker shall receive his full
wage during the treatment period or
the period of six months whichever
is nearer. If the treatment continues
for a period exceeding six months
the worker shall be paid half of his
wage until his recovery or proof of
his permanent disability or death
whichever is nearer.
The worker shall be entitled for
compensation for the disability as
estimated by medical authorities and
workmen compensation insurance is
to indemnify the employer who will
be legally obliged to compensate the
High: 26 C
Low : 16 C
Moderate temperature daytime with
some clouds becomes relatively cold
and hazy at night
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Low : 16 C
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High: 26 C
Low : 17 C
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind: NW-SW-SE 14-22 KT
Waves: 4-7/8 & 2-4/Feet
Wind: NW-NE’LY 03-13 KT
Waves: 1-2/3 Feet
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
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zPlease send your questions by
e-mail to: [email protected]
According to Article 11, the
production by an artist of artistic
work, whether on his own or with
the employment of workers, and
its sale; printing and sale by an
author of his work; professionals
in the freelance professions
engaging in their professions,
such as doctors, engineers,
lawyers and the like; the sale by
farmers of the harvests produced
from the ground that they own,
or that they plant, even after
their conversion (into secondary
products) by the means available
in their agricultural operation are
not considered to be commercial
However if a farmer establishes
a shop or factory on a permanent
basis for the sale of his harvests
in their original condition or
following conversion, the sale
in this case is considered to be
commercial work.
Any legally competent person
carrying on any commercial
business in his own name and for
his own account is a merchant.
Likewise every commercial
company and every company that
adopts a commercial form, even
if it engages in non-commercial
business, is considered to be a
Under Article I3, everyone
who announces to the public
the premises he has established
for commerce by any means
of publication is considered to
be a merchant, even if he has
not adopted commerce as his
occupation. The capacity of
a merchant is established for
everyone who adopts commerce
as his profession in a fictitious
or borrowed name or a name
hidden behind another person in
addition to establishing it for the
apparent person. If a person who
is prohibited from engaging in
commerce under a law or special
regulation engages in commerce
he is considered to be a merchant
and the provisions of this law
apply to him.
A person who makes
a transitory commercial
transaction without adopting
business as his occupation is not
considered to be a merchant.
Nevertheless, the commercial
transaction he performs will be
subject to the provisions of this
Government ministries and
other government organisations,
public bodies and establishments,
associations and clubs are not
considered to be merchants.
However, the commercial
transactions performed by these
bodies will be subject to the
provisions of this law, with the
exception of those transactions
that are exempted by a special
Companies formed by the
state, or in which the state has
a shareholding, or other public
bodies and establishments,
that engage fundamentally in
commercial activity, have the
capacity of a merchant.
This capacity is also attributed
to the branches of foreign public
companies and establishments
that engage in commercial
activity within Qatar.
Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Festival boosts
sales at Souq
Waqif outlets
The family festival brought
together street performers,
puppet and musical shows
he activities of the Souq
Waqif Spring Festival
have helped increase the
turnout of customers at outlets
in and around the heritage market, in particular the gold market, local Arabic daily Arrayah
has said.
Launched on January 23, the
Souq Waqif Spring Festival that
ended yesterday, was visited by
thousands of residents and tourists during the two-week period.
The family festival brought
together street performers, puppet and musical shows. Events,
including a human cannonball, a
seal and penguin show and bungee jumping, enthralled visitors.
Almost all outlets at the souq,
including restaurants and retailers of different items, have reported excellent sales . Besides,
the varied activities that have
appealed to family members
with special focus on children
managed to attract an ever increasing number of locals, expatriates and tourists, especially
from the neighbouring GCC
“It is normal when coming to
the Souq to buy something and
the interesting atmosphere of the
festivities help make shopping
a fun. So, families tend to spend
more time and consequently stop
at more outlets, shop and buy
and visit restaurants,” pointed
out an Asian salesman at a gold
A GCC tourist appreciated
the efforts exerted in organising
the festival, stressing that the
“attractive atmosphere” of the
Souq, with its traditional layout,
made Qatar a favourite destination to spend his family holidays.
“It is an easily accessible place
with a collection of comprehensive services, where every family
member can enjoy his time and
with the activities of the festival,”
he pointed out.
Other outlet mangers and supervisors said that the presence
of many GCC visitors at the Souq
to enjoy the festival helped them
achieve better income.
The turnout was particularly
noticeable at the outlets selling popular Qatari traditional
“This turnout of customers
indicates that Qatari heritage and
traditional cuisine enjoy great
popularity with people from dif-
The Souq Waqif Spring Festival has been visited by thousands of residents and tourists during its two-week period.
ferent backgrounds. Customers
line up, showing great interest
to have some of our special local
dishes and I see that they come
back again,” said a Qatari woman,
owner of a traditional food shop
at Souq Waqif.
The festival, organised as
part of Qatar Tourism Authority
(QTA) to encourage the tourism
sector in the country, has also
reflected beyond the limits of the
area of the Souq, with the surrounding shops receiving more
customers throughout its dura-
tion. In addition, a number of
local hotels benefited from the
festival with some GCC families
and other tourists spending more
than one day in Qatar.
Lexus showcases NX
models of SUVs
An NX200t being showcased at the Toyota pavilion at the Qatar Motor Show.
exus, the luxury vehicle
division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation, has made its presence
at this year’s Qatar Motor Show
a memorable experience with
the Middle East premiere of the
company’s new NX models of
SUVs, which are a combination
of eye catching designs and advanced technologies.
The immaculately-built vehicle, the base model of which
is priced around QR154,000 has
gone down well with the company’s loyal customers, according to officials at the Abdullah
Abdulghani & Bros, distributors
of the Toyota and Lexus vehicles
in Qatar.
The upgraded version of the
model costs around QR214,000.
The sale of the vehicle is expected to commence shortly in the
The NX has been developed
around the core concept of “Premium Urna Sports Gear”, a next
generation Lexus that presents
an urban focus to luxury SUVs.
The vehicle aims to create refined solutions to the mobility
demands of fast moving urban
customers, offering advanced
technologies, excellent environmental performance and
refined Lexus features that give
outstanding quality and driving
Beyond the high quality manufacturing and seamless integration of advanced technologies,
the makers have paid meticulous
care and attention to refining
even the vehicle’s small details.
Starting with the signature
Lexis “spindle grille”, its exterior is bold and compact, wellsculpted diamond shaped body,
flared wheel arches and large
wheels that radiate lively performance.
The interior is equally inspiring, infusing the functional and
structural beauty, ease of use and
practical space demanded of an
SUV with the advanced performance-focused spirit of the Lexus
LFA super car.
Besides the spacious interior,
the cabin’s driver-focused design, excellent positioning of the
handy storage, and convenient
tray for smartphone, all attest
to a refined luxury and personal
pleasure found in the use of each
The automobile also integrates
and embraces the latest technologies to help ensure the safety of
the driver and fellow passengers
by providing a margin of protection that underscores the driver’s
In the event of an accident, occupants protection is integrated
into the core of the vehicle with
a high-rigidity body structure
with the front, side and rear collusion compatible structures
designed to help disperse crash
energy and a high strength body
frame to help suppress the cabin
Audi eyeing double digit
growth in Qatar this year
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
udi expects a double
digit growth in Qatar
this year after posting
a 26% increase in sales in the
country last year, Audi Middle
East managing director Trevor
Hill told Gulf Times.
Speaking at the opening of
the fifth edition of the Qatar
Motor Show on Thursday, Hill
said Audi in the region continued to grow, especially for the
last two years. Q-Auto is the
official distributor of Audi in
The German car manufacturer recorded a 13% growth
two years ago and 7% last year.
“But here in the Qatar market, there is a much stronger
growth,” said Hill. “Qatar is
still the strongest growing
country in the Gulf at the moment.”
Audi is bringing in new cars
and new products to the region
such as the new Q7, Q3 and Q5.
“The three SUVs are perfectly
suited for a market like Qatar,”
he said.
Audi has at least 13 to 14%
market share in the country in
the premium segment.
“We measure premium
market share and total market
share. I think the key for us
is the premium market share
where we are dealing with our
core premium competitors,” he
Audi is planning to open a
new workshop in Qatar.
“More importantly, for me, is a
combination of volume and customer service,” Hill pointed out.
About expansion, he said
each of their dealers in the
Middle East is expanding at the
moment: either building a new
showroom, a workshop or a
used car facility. “Every single
dealer is investing in the Audi
brand right now.”
The German car manufacturer also posted about 16%
growth in Dubai last year,
which it considers their biggest
market in the Gulf.
This year, Audi unveiled
the new Q7, its biggest selling
model at the event which was
attended by Mohamed Saadon
al-Kuwari, Audi brand ambassador for Q-Auto.
The vehicle is a benchmark
for the SUV segment - in terms
of diversified drive-train technologies, lightweight construction technology, pathfinding efficiency, intuitive
connectivity and comprehensive electronics features.
A number of popular Audi
models are also displayed at
Qatar National Convention
Centre such as the S3, S6, S7
and Q5.
Hill also announced that
they will introduce new mod-
els in the region this year.
“In 2014, we established
our ninth straight record year
here in the Middle East – with
the sales of 11,132 units and
in Qatar, Q-Auto showed the
biggest growth of all of our
dealers with a 25% increase in
sales over last year,” he said in
a statement.
straight years, the Audi senior
official lauded the Qatar Motor Show, saying it “has been
a good way for us to show our
products and our brand to the
Qatar customers”.
Honda’s new 2015 CR-V on display at the Domasco pavilion at the Qatar Motor Show.
Doha debut for
Honda 2015 CR-V
Audi Middle East managing director Trevor Hill led the unveiling of the new Audi Q7.
PICTURES: Najeer Feroke.
onda, which has been
steadily increasing its market share across the region,
has launched in Qatar its latest 2015
CR-V , which is on display at the
Qatar Motor Show.
Domasco, the automobile brand’s
country dealers, has showcased at
its pavilion at the show being held
at the Qatar National Convention
Center, a range of vehicles, the most
prominent being the 2015 CR-V .
Qatar is one of the first countries in the Middle East where the
vehicle has hit the road, according
to the manufacturers. About a fortnight ago, the vehicle arrived in the
UAE and in Kuwait.
With its numerous technological innovations as in many previous Honda models, the latest CR-V
has also come out with a number of
notable upgrades, according to the
The 2015 CR-V has upgraded
its engine for an increase in both
torque and fuel efficiency. Based on
2015 EPA mileage ratings, the vehicle’s mileage varies depending on
how one drives and maintains his
The CR-V’s intelligent control
system is a blessing, says the makers who also adds it could sense
loss of traction and automatically
transfer power to the rear wheels,
helping one’s grip on the road and
stay on course.
Even if the vehicle stops on a
steep hill, the vehicle’s hill start assist will maintain brake-line pressure, giving the driver adequate
time to push the accelerator and
resume motion.
Some of the other notable features of the new vehicle is its bold
exterior design, sound isolation
improvements, a centre console
armrest, sliding sunvisors and rear
console ventilation ducts, a power
tailgate, 10-way power and heated
driver’s seat with memory, LED
daytime running lights, and display
audio .
The CR-V is notably enhanced
with multiple functionality upgrades.
Its exterior design changes, including re-styled front and rear
bodywork, mirrors and wheels, lend
the CR-V a sportier appearance.
A 10-way power driver’s seat,
heated front seats, Honda Lane
watch, smart entry/push-button
start and LED daytime running
lights are other notable additions.
A new top-of-the-line touring
trim includes the first Honda application of two advanced driverassistive technologies, collision
mitigation braking system (CMBS)
and lane keeping assist system
(LKAS), and the first CR-V adoption of adaptive cruise Control
China inflation
seen at 5-year
low in Jan
Sensex sheds
133 points on
weak results
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Rabia II 18, 1436 AH
Strong US job, wage gains open
door to mid-year rate hike
Middle East airlines post
13% traffic growth in 2014
iddle East carriers had the
strongest annual traffic
growth at 13% during 2014,
more than double the global average,
according to International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The region’s economies continue
to show robust growth in non-oil sectors, and are therefore well-placed to
withstand the plunge in oil revenues.
Capacity rose 11.9% and load factor climbed 0.8 percentage points to
78.1%,” IATA said.
In comparison, international passenger traffic rose 6.1% in 2014 yearon-year. Capacity rose 6.4% and load
factor slipped 0.1 percentage points to
79.2%, it said.
More than half of the growth in (international) passenger travel occurred
on airlines in emerging markets including Asia-Pacific and the Middle
East, it said.
“Demand for the passenger business did well in 2014. With a 5.9% expansion of demand, the industry outperformed the 10-year average growth
rate. Carriers in the Middle East posted double-digit growth while results
in Africa were barely above previousyear levels,” IATA director general and
CEO Tony Tyler said.
Asia Pacific carriers recorded an
increase of 5.8% compared to 2013,
which was the largest increase among
the three biggest regions. However,
traffic has been broadly flat over the
past four months or so amid signs of
a slowdown in regional production
activity, although trade volumes have
remained strong. Capacity rose 7%,
pushing down load factor 1.1 percentage points to 76.9%.
European carriers’ international
traffic was up 5.7% in 2014. Capacity
rose 5.2% and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points 81.6%. “Robust travel
on low-fare airlines as well as airlines
registered in Turkey offset economic
Asya chief
of regaining
Middle East carriers had the strongest annual traffic growth at 13% in 2014, more than double the global average, according to International Air Transport Association.
weakness and risks in the region,” it
North American airlines saw demand rise 3.1% in 2014 over 2013.
Among developed economies, the US
is the standout performer. Capacity rose 4.6%, dropping load factor 1.1
percentage points to 81.7%. This was
the highest among all regions.
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose
5.8%. Capacity rose 4.7% and load
factor climbed 0.8 percentage points
to 80%. While Brazilian economic
growth has stagnated, regional trade
volumes have improved in recent
African airlines experienced the
slowest annual demand growth, up
IMF seeing uncertainty
about path of oil prices
beria and Sierra Leone, markets that
comprise a very small proportion of
traffic, IATA categorically said.
“Instead it appears to reflect negative economic developments in parts
of the continent including Nigeria,
which is highly reliant on oil revenues.
South Africa also experienced weakness earlier in the year,” it said.
In oil price war, Gulf producers
grab market share in Asia
ncertainty over the future path of oil prices could
throw a wrinkle into the International Monetary
Fund’s predictions for the global economy, its staff
said in a note yesterday.
On the one hand, lower oil prices could persist and boost
global demand more than it foresaw last month, when the
IMF cut its global growth forecast to 3.5% for this year.
At the same time, low crude prices could still force firms
or governments to cut back on supply, nudging prices
higher and faster than expected, the IMF said.
The outlook for petroleum prices, which have decreased
more than 50% in the last seven months, is likely to form
the backdrop for the ministerial meeting of the Group of 20
major economies in Istanbul next week.
While the US is one of the few bright spots in the world
economy, and the US Federal Reserve plans to start raising interest rates around midyear, other central banks have
launched renewed rounds of monetary stimulus, in part
due to fears of deflation from falling oil prices.
In a note prepared for the G20, the IMF cautioned the
Fed to not put too much weight on the impact of cheap oil,
unless it causes long-term changes to inflation expectations, and instead focus on its primary inflation and employment goals.
But the IMF repeated its warning that divergent monetary policies around the world could still lead to spikes in
volatility and sharp capital outflows from emerging markets, especially from oil-exporting countries that have become more vulnerable as crude prices have fallen.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said a stronger US dollar also raises risks.
“Emerging market economies are especially vulnerable
because, over the past five years, many of their banks and
0.9% compared to 2013. With capacity up 3%, load factor fell 1.5 percentage points to 67.5%, the lowest among
the regions.
The weakness in international air
travel for regional carriers is not believed to be attributable to the Ebola
outbreak, the impact of which has
been restricted largely to Guinea, Li-
The former chief executive of Turkey’s
Bank Asya said yesterday he was
confident of regaining management
control of the Islamic lender, describing its takeover by regulators this
week as illegal and temporary.
Speaking at a meeting hosted by an
association close to US-based cleric
Fethullah Gulen, whose sympathisers founded the bank, Ahmet Beyaz
said in his first comments since being
removed that its shareholders would
take legal action.
The move by Turkey’s banking regulators followed a run on deposits last
year, when the lender became embroiled in a feud between President
Tayyip Erdogan and Gulen. No lawsuit
against the regulators has yet been
publicly filed.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
said late on Wednesday the bank
had failed to meet legal criteria
and its takeover was not a political
Beyaz said that while Bank Asya had
seen losses and a rise in non-performing loans, this did not mean it would
not survive, adding that its balance
sheet had started to shrink because
of a “smear campaign” against it and
that its capital adequacy ratio stood
at 18% in the third quarter.
He said the management takeover by
Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance
Fund (TMSF) would knock confidence
in the economy, leading investors to
question the country’s rule of law and
the stability of its banking sector.
Beyaz said he believed the takeover
was a temporary measure, that shareholders would win back their rights,
and that a capital increase suggested
by the former management was still
under evaluation.
Lagarde: Warns against rising dollar.
companies have increased their borrowing in dollars,” she
wrote in an accompanying blog post.
The Fund last month said the positive boost from low oil
prices failed to make up for lower potential growth in major economies, including Japan and the eurozone.
The IMF urged countries to pursue deeper reforms to
raise their growth path, including wide-ranging trade
agreements. But it warned G20 countries not to let regional agreements like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership
take over the global trade policy agenda and leave some
countries out in the cold.
audi Arabia’s move to slash the price it charges in Asia
for its oil this week to the lowest in more than a decade
is the latest aggressive action by Gulf states to defend
market share in the world’s top oil consuming region.
A price war between producers has raged since Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Opec allies last November chose to keep their
taps open in a bid for market share over price, sending oil
prices down more than a third to under $50 a barrel in just
two months.
Since then, Gulf producers – including Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates – have steadily increased shipments to Asia, helped by low production costs that allow aggressive discounts, at the expense of West African and Latin
American supplies.
Middle East exports to China, by far the region’s biggest
importer, increased 2.5% to around 3.8mn barrels per day
(bpd) between December and January, with the market share
improving to 53.9% from 52.2% in December, according to
estimates by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.
“The Gulf states seem to be in this for the long haul. I think
they will continue to make their crude competitive regardless of what happens in the market,” said Richard Gorry,
managing director of energy consultancy JBC Asia.
Saudi exports to China rose by 13% in January from the
previous month, as the Asian country took advantage of low
prices to stockpile, Reuters data shows.
Oil prices began tumbling in June 2014 when traders reacted to rising output around the world at a time of slowing
demand, though have staged a partial recovery from six-year
lows last week.
The increase in shipments has come mostly at the expense
of producers such as Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela – and to
a lesser extent Colombia and Brazil – which in recent years
have boosted exports to Asia after US import requirements
were curbed by the shale boom.
Shipments from West Africa to China fell around 6% in
January, while those from Latin America dipped 9%, the data
Saudi Arabia cut its monthly oil prices on Thursday for
Asian buyers to the lowest in at least 12 years, while raising
prices to Europe and the US.
Asia is the only major consuming region in which the Gulf
dominates supplies. In Europe, Russia is the biggest supplier
while the shale boom has sharply reduced US import needs.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
China gold
slides 25%
in 2014
hina’s gold consumption
fell 25% in 2014 as the
price collapse that triggered an “extraordinary” surge
in buying the year before wasn’t
repeated, the China Gold Association said.
Consumption declined to
886.1 metric tonnes from a
record 1,176.4 tonnes in 2013,
the Beijing-based group said in
a statement yesterday. Demand
for bars sank 59%, coin purchases slumped 49% and gold use in
jewelry contracted 6.9%.
Gold fell 1.4% last year amid
a rally in stock markets that
damped interest in the metal as
an investment and as an antigraft drive in China hurt demand
for luxury goods. Buying in China surged 41% in 2013, spurred
by a 28% slump in prices.
“The precipitous drop in
prices in 2013 led to an increase
in demand of extraordinary proportions,” the association said
in the statement on its website.
“The relatively stable price in
2014 suppressed investment demand.”
Comparing last year with
2012, a “normal” year for consumption, total demand would
show a 6.5% gain, including a
33% jump in jewellery use, the
group said.
The metal has advanced 6.9%
this year amid speculation the
Federal Reserve may delay raising interest rates on concern
that the world’s largest economy
won’t be shielded from a slowdown overseas and as a rout in
commodities threatens to keep
inflation below its 2% target.
Central banks from Europe to
Asia are easing monetary policy
to counter slowing growth and
deflation, with the People’s Bank
of China this week cutting lenders’ reserve requirements.
The demand slide comes amid
an attempt by authorities in China to root out corruption among
Community Party officials. The
campaign “has strongly discouraged purchases of bars and coins,
along with other luxury-gift
items,” the World Gold Council
said in a report in August.
Bullion of 99.99% purity on
the Shanghai Gold Exchange
traded at 255.15 yuan a gram
($1,271.57 an ounce) at 3:10 pm
local time, up 6% this year. The
metal for immediate delivery
was at $1,268.17 an ounce in
London, according to Bloomberg
generic pricing.
Japan GDP seen recovering
from recession at end-2014
apan’s economy was expected to
rebound in the final quarter of last
year from two consecutive contractions as private consumption overcame
a sales tax shock and exports bounced
back, a Reuters poll showed yesterday.
Analysts expect economic growth
data due on February 16 will confirm
the economy had already hit bottom
and was emerging from recession late
last year after an unexpectedly severe
reaction to April’s sales hike to 8% from
“The pace of recovery in consumer
spending picked up and exports expanded, so both domestic and external
demand contributed to growth,” said
Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at
Mizuho Research Institute.
He expects the economy will keep its
moderate recovery in January-March
led by mainly domestic demand from
consumer spending and companies’
capital expenditure.
“Firms’ capital spending will likely
improve gradually. Large Corps enjoy
strong earnings thanks to a weak yen.
If this spreads to small and mediumsized firms, capex overall will rise.”
The economy is seen to have expanded an annualised 3.7% in OctoberDecember last year, according to the
median forecast of 23 economists in the
Reuters poll.
The expected growth would follow
a 1.9% annualised contraction in JulySeptember and a 6.7% contraction in
April-June, which was the sharpest fall
since January-March, 2011.
The annualised figure translates into
a 0.9% growth from a 0.5% fall in the
previous quarter, according to the poll.
Private consumption, which makes
up about 60% of the economy, is seen
A man works around a metal processing machine at a factory in Urayasu, east of Tokyo. Japan’s core machinery orders is seen rising 2.4% in December 2014.
have grown 0.7% in the final quarter,
following a 0.4% rise in the previous
Capital expenditure is seen rising 1%,
the first expansion in three quarters,
from falls of 0.4% and 4.7% in the previous quarters.
External demand is expected to add
0.3 percentage point to growth in the
quarter, compared with 0.1 percentage
point in July-September.
The Cabinet Office will release the
data on February16.
Indicators due next week include key
data such as machinery orders and the
current account balance.
Core machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six
to nine months, was seen rising 2.4% in
December from the previous month,
according to the poll. That compared
with a 1.3% rise in November and a
6.4% drop in October.
Compared with a year earlier, core
orders is seen to have risen 5.9% in December, which would be the first increase in three months.
Falling prices may not prompt BoJ action
Dow Jones
he Bank of Japan wouldn’t necessarily take
fresh easing action if the consumer price index slides into negative territory, provided
that the reason is due to plunging oil prices, people
familiar with the central bank’s thinking say.
“It wouldn’t come as a surprise” if the inflation
rate turns negative, one of the people said, brushing aside speculation that a falling CPI would automatically prompt the BoJ to act.
What the central bank’s nine-member policy
board is really focused on is whether the underlying causes of inflation, such as increases in wages,
economic growth, and a tightening labor market,
are on course toward helping the BoJ reach its 2%
price growth target, the people say.
The remarks are the latest example of how people close to the central bank have been modifying
the explanation for its decision to ease in October, which led market participants to believe that
abrupt drops in oil prices triggered the move to
ramp up asset purchases.
As oil prices have shown no clear signs of bottoming out after plummeting more than 50% from
last year’s peak, the central bank acknowledges
that a further slowdown in Japan’s inflation rate is
likely, although it has not publicly predicted that
the CPI will turn negative.
The BoJ estimates the core consumer price in-
Record spending spurs race by
govts for China tourist dollars
Embassies are re-writing visa rules and
governments are hammering out aviation pacts
as record spending by Chinese travellers sets
off a race around the world for a share of the
Chinese tourist dollar.
Chinese spending on international travel in 2014
rose to $165bn from $129bn in 2013, the biggest
percentage increase in two years, according
to data released by the State Administration of
Foreign Exchange last week.
Chinese disposable incomes have been steadily
rising and would-be travellers got an additional
boost in the past year from favourable foreign
exchange rates, with the yuan appreciating more
than 10% against the yen and the Australian
dollar. The gains versus the euro have been even
greater, at more than 14%, and the yuan set a
record against the single currency last month.
Governments near and far are keen to get their
countries onto Chinese itineraries. In November,
the US signed a landmark deal with China
extending one-year visas issued to Chinese
travellers to up to a decade. This year Malaysia
and Indonesia are planning visa exemptions,
while Thailand is considering exempting visa
fees, which were briefly suspended last year.
Australia in January signed an agreement
with China allowing more passenger flights
from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with
immediate effect.
Air traffic data for China’s big airlines confirms
a rising preference for overseas travel in the
world’s most populous nation. Air China’s
international routes recorded 14.6% growth in
2014 in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), a
gauge of traffic, versus 6.1% for domestic routes,
Reuters calculations show. China Southern
Airlines’ international RPK growth was 20.2%
versus 10.0% domestically. China Eastern Airlines
posted international RPK growth of 4.4%.
dex – stripping out volatile food prices – would
slip below zero if oil prices sink below $40 a barrel
and stay there for a while, those people say. Prices
for oil stood at around $54.20 a barrel yesterday
Excluding the effects of a sales-tax increase that
took effect last year, the core CPI slowed to a 0.5%
on-year rise in December after hitting a peak of a
1.5% increase last April.
Private economists largely predict fresh action
by the BoJ sometime between April and October
and don’t expect any major changes to its key policy when the policy board meets on February 17-18.
BoJ officials are bullish about the prospects for
Japan’s economy, but there’s some uncertainty after the economy fell into a recession last year.
One of the people familiar with the BoJ’s thinking said the prospects of consumer spending
strongly “bouncing back” from a drop-off in demand after an increase in tax hike last April remain modest. Consumer spending is viewed by
the BoJ as a key driver for its bullish 2.1% forecast
for economic growth in the business year starting
this April. Bright spots for the economy include
further improvements in Japan’s exports and industrial production. The BoJ will discuss whether
to upgrade its view on these components at its upcoming meeting, the person added.
Faced with sharp falls in oil prices, the government has in recent weeks taken a flexible stance on
inflation by abandoning its call for the BoJ to hit its
2% inflation target “at the earliest possible time.”
Malaysia’s CIMB
Group launches
internal review
Dow Jones
Kuala Lumpur
alaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings has
launched a review of some of its operations, which could lead to job cuts and
spur an exit from some unprofitable businesses
and markets, people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.
The Malaysian bank accelerated its review after the collapse of an $18bn three-way merger
plan with smaller local rivals last month. It is
currently focused on CIMB’s investment banking business, people familiar with the matter told
The Wall Street Journal, but the review is also
looking at other areas of the bank’s operations.
The investment-banking business includes the
Asian equity operations CIMB bought from British bank Royal Bank of Scotland Group three
years ago and has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the review
began, but an announcement could come in the
next few days, these people said.
“The review may involve restructuring and
reorganisation to lower costs,” one of the people
CIMB has been trying to lower its cost base,
which is one of the highest among Malaysian
banks. At the end of September, Malaysia’s second largest bank by assets had a cost-to-income
ratio of 58%. By the same measure, the cost-toincome ratio for Malayan Banking Bhd., Malaysia’s largest bank, was about 50%, according to
AllianceDBS Research.
CIMB, RHB Capital Bhd. and Malaysia Build-
ing Society Bhd. ended talks last month on a deal
that would have created one of Southeast Asia’s
largest banking groups. The deal was called off
“in light of current economic conditions,” with
the three banks saying they couldn’t arrive at a
value-creating transaction for all stakeholders.
That deal would have propelled CIMB to the
top of the country’s crowded banking market,
while creating a megabank with over $180bn in
assets. Malaysia is home to 27 local and foreign
lenders with thousands of branches competing
for business in a nation of 30mn people.
The restructuring and potential cutbacks call
into question the pan-Asian strategies of the region’s banks in recent years.
Last month, emerging markets-focused
Standard Chartered said it was shutting its
stock-trading and underwriting business and
shedding thousands of mostly Asia-based retail
banking jobs. Japan’s Nomura, which bought Lehman Brothers’ Asian and European operations
in 2008, began scaling back on global ambitions
a few years ago.
CIMB’s deal to buy parts of RBS’s business
almost three years ago gave the Malaysian bank
some of the British lender’s cash equities, equity
capital markets and corporate-finance businesses in Asia with around 400 people. RBS began
selling off global assets after getting bailed out by
the British government during the 2008 financial
CIMB’s net profit fell 16% in the third quarter to 890.3mn ringgit ($251.5mn) while its net
interest margin, a measure of profitability from
lending, fell 2.86% in September compared with
2.87% a year earlier. The company is due to report fourth-quarter earnings by end-February.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Distressed Indian firm Jaiprakash shows default wave challenge
ash-strapped Indian companies
are trying overseas bondholders’
patience, souring sentiment just
as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks
more foreign investment.
Jaiprakash Power Ventures, whose
parent built India’s only Formula One
race track, asked noteholders this week
not to call a default when its dollar
bonds mature on February 13 and promised to pay back the $200mn by March
2016. Wind-turbine maker Suzlon Energy, which built up the equivalent of
$4.9bn in liabilities as of September 30,
is seeking to sell assets to raise more cash
by the end of March.
Regulatory holdups and tariff issues
have hurt Jaiprakash Power’s business,
making it harder to raise cash by selling
assets. It risks joining the 21 Indian bor-
rowers that have missed payment obligations on about $1.2bn of foreign debt
since the global financial crisis. Many
utilities in India have debts so big and
cash flow so small they can’t provide
a steady flow of electricity, prompting
the government to in 2012 orchestrate a
$31bn industry bailout.
“Small and mid-cap companies with
any question mark over their reputation
will have to forget this market for some
time,” said Sudip Shah, the Londonbased chief executive of Orbit Investment Securities Services. “Investors will
ask for premiums to cover the heightened risk because several have been severely burnt.”
Modi has pledged to spur economic
growth after his landslide election victory last May. Local companies need to
repay $846mn of convertible notes in
2015 and $1.4bn next year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Jaiprakash Power offered to repay
$75mn of its $200mn of notes in June
and the balance by March 2016, a person
familiar with the matter said on February 2. The notes can be converted into
shares at about Rs85.8 ($1.39) apiece.
The stock dropped 36% last year and is
now at Rs11.60.
“We’re in a conversation with bondholders,” Jaiprakash Power spokesman
Udayan Sharma said in an e-mailed response to questions, declining to comment on any repayment plans. “We’ll
inform the stock exchanges once we
reach a conclusion.”
Jaiprakash Power sold the 5% convertible notes in January 2010 at 100
cents on the dollar. They rose 1 cent to
85 on Thursday and traded as high as 93
last month, prices indicated by SC Lowy
Financial HK show.
The company has been trying to sell
power assets to raise funds. A unit of billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power
scrapped a deal in September to buy
three of hydropower plants while Abu
Dhabi National Energy Co in July withdrew from an agreement to buy two
projects. It agreed in November to sell
two hydropower plants to JSW Energy
for Rs97bn. Parent Jaiprakash Associates separately proposed selling two
cement plants to UltraTech Cement for
Suzlon defaulted on $209mn of convertible bonds in October 2012. Creditors approved a plan last July to issue
$547mn of new bonds to replace the
older ones, effectively pushing the maturity out to 2018.
“The Indian convertible bond market, despite all its potential, is effectively
dysfunctional in terms of participation
and protection,” said Tobias Bettkober,
who runs a convertible bond fund in Zurich at Holinger Asset Management.
Jaiprakash Power has reported negative free cash flow every fiscal year since
2010. Slow progress cleaning up In-
dia’s power industry may mean reforms
won’t bear fruit until another one or two
years, it said in a January 28 exchange
“Jaiprakash expanded into too many
businesses within a short period of
time,” said AK Sridhar, who oversees
Rs65bn as chief investment officer at
Mumbai-based IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co. “Power projects are rather
capital intensive and have long gestation
periods. Selling assets will ease the situation somewhat but won’t pull them out
of the problem.”
Other industries showing signs of
distress include airlines, telecommunications and construction, Sridhar
The Reserve Bank of India’s benchmark rate of 7.75% has encouraged many
companies to seek funding overseas instead. International note sales rose 28%
to $18.8bn last year. Rupee-denominated offerings increased 14%. Ten-year
China’s inflation seen at
5-yr low on oil price fall
hina’s consumer price inflation likely slowed to a five-year
low in January due to falling oil
prices and sluggish demand, while export growth was seen sagging, a Reuters
poll showed, raising questions whether
more policy stimulus is needed to combat deflationary pressures.
The median forecast of 21 analysts
showed annual export growth probably
slowed to 6.3% in January, down from
December’s 9.7%.
Data out of China during January
and February is typically skewed by the
impact of the Lunar New Year holiday,
making it hard to assess the trends in
the world’s second-largest economy,
after it grew 7.4% in 2014 - its slowest
rate in 24 years.
China’s export numbers tend to be
erratic in any case, and estimates for
January’s performance varied widely
between 10% growth to a 10% contraction.
Imports were seen faring poorly,
partly due to falling global oil and commodity prices, which have reduced the
value of purchases. Measured by value,
imports probably shrank 3% in January
compared with a year earlier, analysts
As a result, analysts predicted that
China’s trade surplus could blow out
to $48.9bn in January, within sight of
an all-time record of $54.7bn hit in November.
“We think real activity has likely
stayed on a soft patch, with neither evidence of visible pick-up in growth momentum nor signs of a sharper slide,”
said Tao Wang, an economist at UBS in
Hong Kong.
Price measures suggested that activity remained anaemic.
Annual consumer price inflation is
forecast to sink to 1.0% in January, a
level last seen in November 2009 and
cooling from December’s 1.5%.
Underscoring the mounting deflationary pressures, producer prices are
forecast to have fallen 3.8%, declining
for a 35th consecutive month.
“Filtering out the impact of food and
energy, China’s core inflation has also
been flat on a month-on-month basis
for two consecutive months, indicating
that underlying demand for consumer
Shoppers at a supermarket in Beijing. China’s annual inflation is forecast to sink to 1% in January, a level last seen in November 2009 and cooling from December’s 1.5%.
products has weakened further,” analysts at Mizuho Securities said in a note.
Due to the upcoming holiday, China
will only report January and February
data for factory output, investment and
retail sales in March. Wang from UBS
said investors should wait until then for
a clearer picture on China’s likely next
policy move. China’s central bank this
week reduced the amount of cash that
banks have to lock up as reserves for the
first time in more than two years.
The move, designed to inject more
cash into the system to increase bank
lending and foster economic growth,
came after the central bank cut interest
rates – also for the first time in over two
years – in November.
While it remains unclear whether
the monetary easing would succeed,
analysts expected money supply data
to show that banks had rushed to issue
more loans in January, as in previous
New yuan loans are forecast to have
surged to one-year high of 1,350bn yuan
in January, the poll showed, up from
697bn yuan in December.
Growth in the broad M2 money supply measure is predicted to have eased
a touch to 12.1% in January from a year
earlier, compared to December’s 12.2%.
government bonds yield 7.703% compared with 1.815% for similar US Treasuries.
Overseas funding will still remain an
option for better quality companies,
especially those above $2bn in market value, according to Raj Kothari, an
emerging market fixed income trader
in London at Sun Global Investments.
Jaiprakash Power, based in Noida near
New Delhi, plans to issue a notice to
bondholders on February 27 and hold a
meeting to get their consent on March 6,
the person familiar said.
Some Asian issuers “don’t understand such games can be really damaging and make foreign investors more
reluctant to subscribe to new issues,”
said Giuseppe Mirante, a money manager at MFM Mirante Fund Management
in Lausanne, Switzerland who holds the
company’s notes. “There will be a pushback to get payment as soon as possible,
more like within six months, not 12.”
chief, son
sell $1.1bn
Hyundai Motor Co’s chairman
and his son sold $1.1bn worth
of shares in logistics firm
Hyundai Glovis Co, finding
success in their second
attempt at a sale after
committing to a long lock-up
period for their remaining
stakes and slashing the price.
Chairman Chung Mong-koo
and son Chung Eui-sun had
sought to sell 13% of the
affiliate to comply with new
antitrust rules.
But investors walked away
from an initial sale attempt
last month, worried that the
family may be pulling out
from Hyundai Glovis and
uncertain if the stake sale
was key to the group’s efforts
to hand over control to the
younger Chung.
To soothe investors’
concerns, the Chungs
committed to a lock-up
period of just under two
years for their remaining
combined stake of nearly
Advisors tapped the market
ahead of the rebooted deal
and asked investors what
conditions they would prefer,
people familiar with the deal
told Reuters. They declined
to be identified as they were
not authorised to speak to
the media.
“The lock-up period cleared
up uncertainty about what
the family would do with
Glovis and offered investors
a chance to maximize value
in the meantime,” said Kim
Min-ji, a logistics analyst at
E-Trade Korea.
The collapse of the sale last
month had also sparked
a 21% decline in Hyundai
Glovis shares, and the final
price came in 17% below the
high-end of the initial sale’s
indicative range.
Some 5mn shares in Hyundai
Glovis were sold at 230,500
won each, a discount of 2.7%
to Thursday’s close. That
compares with a marketing
range of 227,500-232,500
China’s reserve ratio cut more help to banks than borrowers
A fluttering Chinese national flag casts its shadow on the headquarters of the
People’s Bank of China in Beijing. After a slew of gloomy economic data, the
People’s Bank of China (PBoC) cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios by 50 basis
points on Wednesday, freeing up an estimated $96bn into the money supply.
hinese bankers welcomed Beijing’s decision to cut the level of
reserves they must hold, hoping they can put the freed-up cash to
profitable use, but struggling Chinese
companies hoping it will mean more
and cheaper loans are likely to be disappointed.
After a slew of gloomy economic
data, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC)
cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios
(RRR) by 50 basis points on Wednesday,
freeing up an estimated 600bn yuan
($96bn) into the money supply.
New lending in December was lower
than expected, and that was followed
by a surprise shrinking in the factory
sector in January and weakening data
for the services industry, once a lonely
bright spot in the world’s second largest economy.
However, economists who spoke to
Reuters viewed the RRR cut as a defensive attempt to offset the impact of
capital flowing out of yuan assets as the
currency slides against the dollar, not
stimulative. Government economists
have publicly made similar statements.
“Foreign exchange management
is not an effective long-term liquidity tool, so you must use other delivery
channels,” said Ma Jun, central bank
chief economist, in a commentary
published by the official China Securities Journal on Wednesday.
Lu Lei, head of the PBoC’s research
department, also played down the significance of the move, saying it was not
a strong stimulus measure or a policy
shift but an ordinary operation based
on liquidity conditions, including a
spike in demand for cash for the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.
Bankers who spoke to Reuters said
the move was not enough to encourage
them to lend more, or lend more cheap-
ly, given the dearth of demand from
creditworthy borrowers, an assertion
supported by independent surveys of
Chinese executives.
“There are too few good clients if
your bank is prioritising risk; indeed
there are times when you have money,
but you can’t find ways to lend it out,”
said a loan officer from one of China’s
top five banks, who added that his bank
frequently found itself with cash in
hand and nobody worth lending to.
The move will mean more funds
available for investment in higheryielding money market products, analysts say, and some bankers said they
might steer more credit to the safer
state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
Chinese state-owned banks are often
criticised for preferring to lend to SOEs
regardless of their business prospects,
because they are guaranteed by the
government, which starves the more
efficient private sector of capital.
The problem facing banks’ loan of-
ficers is that smaller companies - both
private and local-level SOEs – tend
to be lighter on assets that can serve
as collateral and their financial statements are less reliable.
Also, for many lenders, especially
smaller banks, the relaxation of the
reserve requirement doesn’t free up
capital for loans because they still have
to maintain a loan-to-deposit ratio of
75%. And in China’s tightly controlled
financial system, lending quotas set by
the central bank are more significant
determinants of loan volumes.
“For banks, the RRR reduction basically means they can convert some of
the loss-making positions (PBoC pays
1.6% per annum on reserve vs banks’
deposit cost of 2% or more) into bonds
or interbank assets with 4-5% yields,”
wrote Credit Suisse analysts Victor
Wang and Steven Zhu in a research
note, adding that the change alone
could bump bank profits up 0.9% in
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Eurobond outlook dims as dollar risk rises on Fed
New York
As Ivory Coast prepares to sell subSaharan Africa’s first Eurobond of
2015, the strengthening dollar risks
curbing issuance across the continent
as debt payments for governments
grow more expensive.
Sales will probably decline from
last year’s record $16bn as issuers
fret about exchange rates amid the
drag placed on local economies
by slumping oil, according to Rand
Merchant Bank. Last year, Ghana,
Zambia, Ethiopia and Kenya were
among countries that took advantage
of all-time low borrowing costs in
dollars to fund infrastructure from roads
to power projects.
The dollar’s advance versus African
currencies over the past nine months,
sparked partly by speculation the
Federal Reserve was preparing to raise
interest rates, makes it costlier for
nations to pay interest and principal
with local currency. That’s being
exacerbated for oil-producing countries,
which have seen dollar revenues tumble
amid the 52% drop in crude prices since
last year’s peak in June.
“The mindset has changed,” Nema
Ramkhelawan-Bhana, an Africa
analyst at RMB, which is owned by
FirstRand, the continent’s biggest
banking group by value, said by phone
from Johannesburg on Thursday.
Asian shares
edge higher
sian shares edged higher yesterday and oil
prices continued to rebound, but investors remained wary ahead of the US nonfarm payrolls
report for January later in the session.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up about 0.1%, on track for a weekly
gain of more than 1%. Japan’s Nikkei stock average
ended up 0.8% but marked a slight weekly loss, after
shedding 1% on Thursday.
“The main focus for the market is whether earnings
bounce back as expected, after last month’s surprise
drop,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo
Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.
“Another market focus now is Greece, which is a
situation that will take time to develop. It might be
difficult for stocks to rise too much in the meantime,”
she added.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pledged on
Thursday to “put an end once and for all” to the European Union’s austerity policies and to bargain hard
for a new deal for Greece, after the European Central
Bank decided to stop accepting Greek bonds as collateral to raise cash. Greece’s new leftist finance minister
clashed openly with his powerful German counterpart
on Thursday as Athens’ borrowing costs leapt and
bank shares plunged. The ECB’s decision heightened
fears about Greece’s financial system and the possibility that the country might leave the eurozone.
But Wall Street managed to put worries about
Greece on the back burner on Thursday. Major indexes
all ended with gains of 1% or more, while a rise in US
Treasury yields underpinned the US dollar.
Mixed US data on Thursday on jobless claims, productivity and the trade balance gave investors few
clues on the overall growth outlook and the timing of
the US Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates,
which some believe could be as early as this summer.
Callum Henderson, global head of FX research for
Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, said Standard
Chartered’s baseline expectation is that US non-farm
payrolls will increase by around 260,000.
The market could show a sharp reaction if the increase in non-farm payrolls turns out to be either less
than 200,000, or more than 300,000, Henderson said,
adding that such results could lead to “quite a bit of
The dollar edged down about 0.2% against the yen
to 117.25. The euro inched down 0.1% against the dollar on the day to $1.1463, after sharp rises overnight on
speculation the Swiss central bank was buying euros
to weaken the franc. The Swiss government warned
on Thursday that a soaring franc meant economic
growth would be weaker than expected. Brent crude
futures soared about 2.1% to $57.78 a barrel, while US
crude added about 2.6% to $51.77 a barrel after surging
more than 4% in the previous session, as an escalating conflict in Libya and optimism about oil demand
after China’s central bank easing helped the market
The People’s Bank of China cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios by 50 basis points on Wednesday,
freeing up an estimated 600bn yuan ($96bn) into the
money supply.
“We’re worried about individual
countries’ capacities to pay the
interest, not only the nominal amount.
Investors are going to become far
more punishing of the sovereign for
any type of fundamental weaknesses
they have.”
The exchange-rate risk of sovereign
bonds sold by sub- Saharan African
governments between 2013 and 2014
threatens losses of $10.8bn, equivalent
to 1.1% of their gross domestic
product, the Overseas Development
Institute, a UK research centre, said in
a report on January 28.
Only four of 24 African currencies
tracked by Bloomberg appreciated
against the dollar since the beginning
of May, shortly before the Fed said
it would start reducing monetary
stimulus. Nigeria’s naira is the worst
performer, falling 17%, while Ghana’s
cedi dropped 16% and the Kenyan
shilling 5%. The naira weakened 0.8%
to 193.93 per dollar, heading for a
record close, by 10:20 a.m. in Lagos.
Yields on Nigeria’s $500mn of
Eurobonds due July 2023 have soared
199 basis points since the end of May,
more than similar-maturity Russian
dollar debt. That contrasts with yields
for 29 out of 31 sovereign markets
in Eastern Europe, the Middle East
and Africa, which fell in the period,
according to data compiled by
Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest
cocoa producer, will begin marketing
a Eurobond to investors in London
next week, Prime Minister Daniel
Kablan Duncan said Thursday. The
nation returned to international debt
markets in July, raising $750mn of
10-year notes with demand exceeding
supply by more than six times. The
sale came less than four years after
the country defaulted on more than
$2bn of notes during a disputed
presidential election. Risks for Ivory
Coast are lower than for some other
African sovereigns, as the nation’s
currency, the CFA franc, is pegged
to the euro and the country is a net
importer of oil, said John Ashbourne,
an economist at Capital Economics.
“An investment in improving
infrastructure would more than pay
for itself by improving the country’s
growth prospects,” Ashbourne said
via e-mail from London on February 2.
Yields on Ivorian debt due July 2024
fell 18 basis points to 6.03% yesterday.
With developed-nation interest rates
at or near record lows, investors
clamoured for higher-yielding African
debt last year, Ramkhelawan-Bhana
said. That is set to change as higher
rates in the US give investors more
options, she said.
“I don’t think we’re going to get that
flurry of issuance that we saw last
year,” she said. “This year is going
to be far more measured. We might
have two or three big issuers, but we
definitely won’t see the volumes we
saw in 2014.”
Sensex sheds 133 points
to log 1.6% weekly loss
ndian stocks declined, with the benchmark index capping a second weekly loss, after Tata Motors’s profit
trailed estimates, raising concern that a recent rally
may have exceeded the outlook for company earnings.
Tata Motors, the biggest automaker by volume, tumbled the most in four months after its third-quarter net
income fell 25% from a year ago. Mahindra & Mahindra,
a tractor maker, capped its biggest weekly drop since
November 2011. Bank of Baroda fell for a seventh day,
the longest run of losses in more than two years.
The S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.5% or 133 points to
28,717.91 at the close, extending this week’s drop to
1.6%. The gauge has slid 2.9% since climbing to a record
on January 27 after Bank of Baroda led four lenders in
reporting higher bad-loans provisions in their thirdquarter earnings filings, raising concern about the economy’s strength.
“The earnings season this quarter has been absolutely
atrocious,” Neelkanth Mishra, managing director for
equity research at Credit Suisse Securities (India) Pvt.,
said in an interview with Bloomberg TV India. “A large
number of companies have reported weak numbers.
There’s concern about downward earnings revision accelerating.”
Tata Motors tumbled 5%, the biggest decline since
October 10 and the worst performance on the Sensex
yesterday. Mahindra & Mahindra decreased 2.5% to the
lowest level since June 30. The stock has dropped in eight
of the past nine days. The S&P BSE India Auto Index lost
2.8%, the worst performer among the 13 industry gauges
on the BSE. Tata Steel, the biggest producer of the alloy,
will probably report a 77% plunge in third-quarter profit
from a year earlier to Rs1.14bn, according to the median
of 20 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The stock
decreased 2.8%.
Traders at the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Sensex lost 0.5% to 28,717.91 at the close yesterday, extending this week’s drop to 1.6%.
Easy money raising appeal of Japan, Europe stocks
New York
he recent round of monetary stimulus
from the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank has increased the
appeal of those regions’ stocks versus their
US counterparts, said Ashwin Alankar, a top
strategist at Janus Capital Group Inc
As the BoJ and ECB pump more cash and
keep rates at rock bottom levels to boost
their domestic economies, they have reduced the cost of insuring stock losses with
options and other products, Alankar said.
The cost to insure losses on US shares, on
the other hand, have risen from a year ago
after the Federal Reserve ended its bond purchase programme last autumn, and it might
raise short-term interest later this year, he
“History tells us: follow what the central
banks want you to do. Don’t short them. Follow the imbalances. They will only get larger,” Alankar said in a telephone interview.
Last month, the ECB decided to buy
€60bn ($68.17bn) a month to help a fragile
eurozone economy, while the BoJ pledged to
maintain a stimulative policy.
In the five weeks into 2015, so far, Alankar’s
view seem on the money.
Tokyo’s Nikkei has risen 0.3%, while the
pan-European FTSEurofirst 200 index has
increased 8.7%. The Standard & Poor’s 500
index has edged up nearly 0.2%.
For US investors, the strong dollar will eat
into the profits from overseas stocks.
The Denver-based investment firm hired
Alankar last July to head its asset allocation
and risk management operations, along with
Nobel prize winner Myron Scholes who will
be its chief investment strategist.
Two months later, Bill Gross left PIMCO,
the firm he founded, to join Janus to help expand its global macro bond strategies.
While easy monetary policies propel stock
prices higher, Alankar cautioned that the reverse also holds true.
When a central bank begins to tighten
policy, stock market volatility and the cost of
insuring losses follow.
“When they normalise, there will be a
shock,” Alankar said.
Given the recent drop in oil and other
commodity prices, he warned against investing in Russia and Brazil, among other
“In the equity world, you want to avoid
those countries that are too commodity
based,” he added.
Rajan rate pause builds confidence for bond bulls
Rajan: Ready to cut rates if it is needed.
India’s bond investors are encouraged by
central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan’s
decision to pause in cutting interest rates
until the government takes steps to repair
the nation’s finances.
Ten-year sovereign yields will drop 28 basis
points by June 30 from Tuesday’s 7.73%, a
Bloomberg News survey of 10 fixed-income
dealers and fund managers shows. The
yield fell 12 basis points this year, after
sliding 97 basis points in 2014, the most
since 2008, as lower oil prices slowed
The Reserve Bank of India’s Rajan
chose not to cut on Tuesday, after an
unscheduled reduction on Jan. 15, saying
further easing depends on sustained
fiscal consolidation. He did show his focus
was still on boosting Asia’s third-largest
economy by lowering the proportion
of deposits lenders must invest in safer
assets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
government will unveil the budget on
February 28.
“There’s no harm in waiting to see what the
budget has to offer and it’s a prudent move
that lends the RBI more credibility,” Arvind
Chari, Mumbai-based head of fixed income
and alternatives at Quantum Advisors
Pvt., said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“Investors should use any sell-off as an
opportunity to add long-duration bonds as
yesterday’s policy in no way changes the
view that rates are headed lower.”
Ten-year bonds declined Tuesday, driving
the yield seven basis points higher, on
concern banks will pare sovereign debt
holdings after the RBI cut the so-called
statutory liquidity ratio to 21.5% from 22%.
The yield rose one basis point today while
the rupee fell 0.2% to 61.81 a dollar.
Last month’s 25-basis point reduction in
the repo rate was the central bank’s first
since May 2013 and followed three equal
increases by Rajan since he took office in
September 2013. Consumer-price gains
slowed to 5% in December from as high
as 11.2% in November 2013 as last year’s
almost 50% plunge in Brent crude prices
cut costs for India, which relies on imports
for more than three quarters of its oil.
“The outlook for growth has improved
modestly on the back of disinflation, real
income gains from decline in oil prices,
easier financing conditions and some
progress on stalled projects,” Rajan said in
the policy statement.
Modi’s government, which took over in
May, has pledged to narrow the fiscal
deficit to a seven-year low of 4.1% of gross
domestic product in the year ending
March 31. Modi has allowed more foreign
investment in sectors such as defence
and used executive orders to pressure
parliament to approve bills that seek to
boost investment in insurance and coal as
he tries to revive the $1.9tn economy.
The RBI is among a dozen central banks
from Australia to Canada that have cut
rates this year as tumbling commodity
prices slowed inflation.
Rajan signaled that “if the inflationary
impact of budget deficit is minimal, the RBI
will likely act again,” Kumar Rachapudi, a
Singapore-based strategist at Australia &
New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, said in an
e-mail interview yesterday. “We continue to
advocate buying bonds in India.”
Rachapudi said the RBI’s decision to cut
the proportion of deposits that banks
must invest in specified securities such
as sovereign bonds “shouldn’t matter
much beyond the knee-jerk reaction” as
lenders are already holding more than the
mandated level due to low credit demand.
Loan growth slumped to 9.7% in the 12
months through Sept. 5, the least since
October 2009. While the pace of lending
reached 10.7% in early January, it’s still less
than an average 22.3% seen in the decade
through 2013.
State-run lenders were net buyers of
108.03bn rupees ($1.75bn) of government
bonds on Tuesday, the most in data from
the Clearing Corp of India going back to
2006. Global funds, which bought a record
$26bn of Indian sovereign and corporate
debt in 2014, have added another $4bn to
their holdings this year.
Bond risk in India has been falling. Creditdefault swaps insuring the notes of State
Bank of India, a proxy for the sovereign,
against non-payment for five years sank to
155 on Jan. 26, a three-year low, according
to data provider CMA. They were at 164
Tuesday, according to the latest figures
“Government bonds are in a secular bull
market and we expect the 10-year yield
to continue to drift lower,” Rohit Arora, a
Singapore-based interest-rate strategist
at Barclays Plc, said in a phone interview
Tuesday. “The decline in yields is likely to
occur against a backdrop of a sustained
drop in inflation and continued fiscal
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 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
Visitors pass through the main entrance of the London Stock Exchange. The FTSE 100 slipped 0.18% at 6,853.44 points yesterday.
US jobs data fails to revive
European stock markets
etter-than-expected jobs data
showing the US economy is
steaming ahead failed to revive
Europe’s main stock markets yesterday
with anxiety over Greece still weighing
on sentiment.
London’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.18% to
end the day at 6,853.44 points, while
in Paris the CAC 40 lost 0.26% to
4,691.03 and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index
shed 0.54% to 10,846.39.
Milan dropped 0.28% but Madrid’s
IBEX 35 managed a 0.36% gain.
In foreign exchange activity, the
euro declined to $1.1330 from $1.1475
late in New York on Thursday.
The eagerly-awaited January jobs report showed the US economy pumped
out a solid 257,000 new jobs in January,
better than expected by analysts, and a
sign that overall growth remains firm.
Wage growth, an indication the labour market may be tightening, rebounded firmly after a drop in December. Year-on-year wage growth
increased from 1.9% in December to
2.2% in January.
Wage growth has been a key priority
of the US Federal Reserve, which has
signalled it wants to raise interest rates
in 2015.
“Another employment report like
this one for February and the stock
market will most likely have to start
getting its mind around a rate hike
actually happening in mid-2015 after
all,” said analyst Patrick
That prospect gave US stocks pause,
with Wall Street opening flat, but by
midday they had moved higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 0.21% to 17,922.80 points.
The broad-based S&P 500 climbed
0.38% to 2,070.37, while the tech-rich
Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.37%
to 4,782.58.
On Thursday, European equities had
shrugged off concerns about Greece
after the European Central Bank (ECB)
restricted Greek banks’ access to a key
source of cash, while Germany signalled its unwillingness to reduce Athens’ debt.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
and his Finance Minister Yaris Varoufakis, whose radical left Syriza party
stormed to power in elections on January 25, have gone on a tour of major
European capitals this week to try to
build support for a renegotiation of the
country’s bailout.
“With the unsuccessful Greek-Euro
tour over, Varoufakis returned back to a
Greek nation last night still firmly behind their new leaders,” said Spreadex
analyst Connor Campbell.
“However, the lack of progress in
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
negotiating a deal, something that
looked so promising at the start of the
week, has taken its toll on the markets”
in Europe.
Greek stocks ended the day down
1.97%, but still ended the week up
Eurozone finance ministers will hold
an extraordinary meeting in Brussels
on Wednesday, with Berlin saying it
expects Greece to put its plans on the
EU leaders are to then hold a summit
meeting on Thursday.
Greece’s €240bn ($275bn) EU-IMF
bailout is due to expire on February
28, leaving just weeks for Athens and
Brussels to reach a compromise or risk
seeking Greece crash out of the euro.
“Syriza’s rose-tinted plan to renegotiate Greece’s current debt agreement
has met with a decidedly unenthusiastic response from the ECB,” added ETX
Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman.
“Despite populist speeches by Mr
Tsipras stressing an end to Greek economic humiliation, the ECB’s very
public refusal to accept any further
Greek bonds may go some way towards
ending the illusion that this is a negotiation between equals rather than between debtor and creditor.”
On the corporate front in London on
Thursday, Britain’s Poundland on Friday snapped up rival group 99p Stores
for £55mn ($84mn, €74mn).
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, February 7, 2015
Family money puts its faith in
Europe technology companies
Pooch Cafe
Bound And Gagged
ome of Europe’s wealthiest
families are investing chunks
of their cash in technology
companies, bringing the benefits of
long-term horizons to start-ups and
filling a funding hole for the continent’s fledgling Facebooks.
European family offices, the private investment houses of the super-rich, nearly doubled their direct
investments in companies between
2008 and 2014 to nine per cent of
total portfolios as low interest rates
hurt returns elsewhere, according to
a report by Campden Research and
bank UBS.
That may not seem like a lot, but
with average assets under management of $890mn, each European
family office has around $80mn to
play with for direct investments.
Many are using the cash to bet on
tech, stepping in where venture capital is reluctant to tread.
“The sector is very important for
them,” said James Innes, a partner
at London corporate finance house
Chrystal Capital who consults over
300 family offices on early-stage
tech investments.
“When families do their allocations on direct investing, they have
accepted it is on the riskier side of
life. They want things that potentially give you significant multiples
on your cash. That’s tech.”
Pairing up with a rich benefactor
brings advantages for the start-ups.
As investors, they have far longer
time frames than private equity
houses or venture capitalists, can
make investment decisions more
quickly and bring proven business
acumen to the management of nascent companies.
“With a family office you don’t
have a time horizon. We like the
long-term focus. It’s great to have
an investor who doesn’t view going
public as an exit opportunity, but
rather a chance to buy more stock,”
said Pere Valles, Chief Executive of
Spanish electoral technology company Scytl.
It is not just European family
Scytl received a $40mn cash injection from Vulcan Capital, the direct investment wing of Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen’s personal
holding company.
“We were approached by private
equity groups initially, but when
Vulcan Capital approached us we
stopped right away,” Valles said.
Start-ups now actively seek-out
family wealth operations, according to Peter Newton, a portfolio
manager at Campden Wealth who
organises meetings between early
stage media and sports tech companies and potential investors.
“When you speak to the companies, they’ll say ‘I really want to
find a family office to invest in me...
that’ll help us grow far better than
a venture capitalist who wants to
come in, make his money in four
years then disappear,’” he said.
Family money comes with another perk: those who manage it don’t
have to dedicate a portion of their
Mall Cinema (1): The Tale Of The
Princess Kaguya (2D) 2.30pm;
Yellowbird (2D) 5pm; Stone
Hearst Asylum (2D) 6.30pm; A
Most Violent Year (2D) 8.30pm;
Shamitabh (Hindi) 10.45pm.
Mall Cinema (2): Yennai
Arindhaal (Tamil) 2pm; Son Of A
Gun (2D) 5pm; Jupiter Ascending
(2D) 7 & 9.15pm; The Gambler (2D)
Mall Cinema (3): The Gambler
(2D) 2.30pm; American Sniper
(2D) 4.30pm; Vitamin (Arabic)
6.45pm; Mariyam Mukku
(Malayalam) 9pm; A Most Violent
Year (2D) 11.15pm.
Year (2D) 9.15pm; Son Of A Gun
(2D) 11.30pm.
Royal Plaza Cinema Palace
Cinema Land Mark (1): The Tale (1): Yellowbird (2D) 2.30 & 4pm;
Of The Princess Kaguya (2D)
Shamitabh (Hindi) 5.45 & 10.45pm;
2.15pm; Yellowbird (3D) 4.45pm;
Jupiter Ascending (2D) 8.30pm.
A Most Violent Year (2D) 6.15pm;
Royal Plaza Cinema Palace (2):
Stone Hearst Asylum (2D) 8.30pm; Stone Hearst Asylum (2D) 2.30pm;
Yennai Arindhaal (Tamil) 10.15pm. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Cinema Land Mark (2): Son
(2D) 4.30pm; American Sniper (2D)
Of A Gun (2D) 2.30pm; The
7pm; The Gambler (2D) 9.15pm;
Gambler (2D) 4.30 & 9pm; Jupiter Jupiter Ascending (2D) 11.15pm.
Ascending (3D) 6.45 & 11pm.
Royal Plaza Cinema Palace(3):
Cinema Land Mark (3): Yennai
Son Of A Gun (2D) 2.30pm; The
Arindhaal (Tamil) 2pm; Mariyam
Gambler (2D) 4.30pm; A Most
Mukku (Malayalm) 5pm; Vitamin
Violent Year (2D) 6.45 & 11.15pm;
(Arabic) 7.15pm; A Most Violent
Vitamin (Arabic) 9pm.
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
4. More than one vent-peg
drips round both ends of the
ice-bag (7)
8. Decorations are or are not
different (6)
9. Boar’s head brought up to
be cooked (7)
10. Official revision of rota in
New York (6)
11. Hospital doctor required
in sudden bout of illness, we
hear (6)
12. Splendid comfort, one
hears, for high-ranking
Spaniard (8)
18. Toasting an eccentric
dancer (8)
20. Father, saint or cleric (6)
21. Watergate is involved
with the clue (6)
22. Colonist preceded by
young attendant in historical
show (7)
23. Describing the intricate
pattern of Old Testament
law (6)
24. Hide the Earl somehow
time hunting around for new investors, and can spend more hours on
the businesses they invest in.
“They amount of time they dedicate to us is unbelievably impressive.
It’s way above anything I’ve seen,”
said Ed Bussey, founder and chief
executive of London-based content
creator Quill Content, which last year
received a £5mn ($7.7mn) investment
from Smedvig Capital, the direct investment outfit of the Norwegian
family oil dynasty of that name.
Old wealth is also plugging a venture capital funding gap that has
long plagued European companies
trying to make their way from tiny
start-up to the big time.
Last year Europe-focused venture capital raised only €300mn in
late stage funds for such companies,
compared to the $3.7bn in the US,
according to data firm Preqin.
Family wealth is helping fill the
hole, said Tim Hames, director general of the British Private Equity and
Venture Capital Association.
“It’s a huge development across
the piece. It’s a bit like the impact
shale is having in oil and gas. It’s
a completely new sort of supply,”
Hames said.
While potential return on investment is a big draw for investing in
tech start-ups, family dynasties can
have other ideas in mind when investing in the sector.
Industry players told Reuters the
motivations include giving their
millennial heirs greater scope to
choose investments in an area that
they know, infusing their traditional
businesses with the latest tech, or
simply having something to jazz up
dinner party conversation.
“They like small tech companies
that they can follow closely on a
day-to-day basis”, said private equity lawyer James Grimwood, whose
firm CMS Cameron McKenna increasingly offers family wealth legal
“It’s a hobby,” he added.
Scytl received a $40mn cash
injection from Vulcan Capital, the
direct investment wing of Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen’s personal
holding company.
Quick Clues
1. No agent gets the weight
wrong (7)
2. As a substitute it could be
stained (7)
3. Gazed at a Communist going
past the street (6)
5. He is biased in favour of
a member of the resistance
movement (8)
6. The sort of party incurring a
charge (6)
7. Those people absorbing an
alternative abstract idea (6)
13. A performer makes it
produce rapturous delight (8)
14. Describing the smallest note
written by a learner (7)
15. Lengthen a sentence (7)
16. Ruin the state of Virginia in a
passionate outburst (6)
17. Treats badly in a state of
inertia (2,4)
19. Make quick progress in the
opinion poll, by the sound of it
4. Strew (7)
8. Jinx (6)
9. Surround (7)
10. Haughty (6)
11. Unequalled (6)
12. Sacrifice (8)
18. Extenuate (8)
20. Impede (6)
21. Ethnic (6)
22. Versus (7)
23. Lunge (6)
24. Offspring (7)
1. Superficial (7)
2. Appal (7)
3. Chillier (6)
5. Marital (8)
6. Essay (6)
7. OT book (6)
13. Gaol (8)
14. Most (7)
15. Let down (7)
16. Knife (6)
17. Bound (6)
19. Detest (6)
Weekly’s Solutions
Across: 1 Consolation; 9 Aid; 10
Go to waste; 11 Faint; 13 Lorries;
14 Espied; 16 Assail; 18 Respire;
19 Dress; 20 Etiquette; 21 All; 22
Down: 2 Old; 3 Sight; 4 Little;
5 Towards; 6 Obstinate; 7
Half-hearted; 8 Ceaselessly; 12
Impassive; 15 Epicure; 17 Hectic;
19 Dwell; 21 Ass.
Across: 1 Perambulate; 9 Ova;
10 Somewhere; 11 Nears; 13
Seaweed; 14 Reveal; 16 Ashore;
18 Scruple; 19 Tudor; 20 Dietitian;
21 Off; 22 Typewriters.
Down: 2 Ena; 3 Asses; 4 Bemuse;
5 Low mass; 6 The record; 7
Countryside; 8 Needle-craft; 12
Adversely; 15 Apprise; 17 Senior;
19 Tenet; 21 Oar.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Verizon to sell wireline
operations, cell phone
towers worth $15.6bn
San Francisco
erizon Communications said
it would sell wireline assets to
Frontier Communications for
$10.54bn in cash and sell and lease cell
phone towers for around $5bn to American Tower in a deal that will help it pay
off recent wireless spectrum purchases.
The transaction is the latest in a series
of non-core assets that Verizon has sold
in recent months to reduce debt and raise
cash for investments.
The Frontier sale is expected to close in
the first half of next year and is subject to
regulatory approval, the companies said.
Frontier will nearly double its size
by buying Verizon’s local wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas,
including 3.7mn voice customers, 1.2mn
video customers and 2.2mn broadband
“Over 50% of these networks are fibre
to the home so these are outstanding assets in high growth areas,” said Frontier
CEO Maggie Wilderotter in an interview.
Boston-based American Tower said
Verizon would lease over 11,300 towers
and sell 165 towers for $5.06bn.
Verizon also announced plans to buy
back shares worth $5bn.
The largest US carrier by subscribers,
Verizon purchased 181 licenses worth
$10.4bn in a government sale of wireless airwaves for mobile data that closed
last week. That came on top of $130bn it
spent in 2013 to buy from Vodafone the
45% in its wireless unit that it did not already own.
The company will use capital raised in
these two transactions to invest in upgrading its network, deliver shareholder
Pedestrians talk on mobile phones as they walk past a Verizon Wireless retail store in Washington. Verizon Communications said it
would sell wireline assets to Frontier Communications for $10.54bn in cash and sell and lease cell phone towers for around $5bn to
American Tower in a deal that will help it pay off recent wireless spectrum purchases.
returns and repay debt, Chief Executive
Lowell McAdam said on a call.
The company has been doubling down
on its wireless business while spending less on broadband Internet and telephone services.
Verizon did a similar deal with Frontier
in 2009, when it sold 4.8mn rural phone
lines to Frontier for $8.6bn in stock and
cash. Frontier will receive a $1.9bn tax
benefit as part of the transaction.
Shares in Frontier rose more than 5%
after closing at $7.70 in trading after
market close on Thursday. Shares in Verizon and American Tower were relatively
unchanged after closing at $47.86 and
$99.59 respectively.
Verizon was advised by Credit Suisse,
Guggenheim Securities and PJT Partners
on the wireline sale, while its legal adviser on the Frontier deal was Debevoise &
Plimpton. On the tower deal, Verizon was
advised by TAP Advisors, Guggenheim
and JP Morgan. Frontier was advised by
JP Morgan while its board was advised by
Greenhill & Co, and its legal adviser was
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
SAP eyes growth
after unveiling
software overhaul
AP has launched the most
high-stakes overhaul of its
core software line in more
than two decades, aiming to
convince multinational corporate customers that its software
can now run their most critical
applications to predict business
Europe’s biggest software
company said its widely used
suite of corporate planning applications and newer cloud-based
Internet software are set to work
together using a single, modern
user interface. Analysts estimate this means hundred or even
thousand-fold improvements in
SAP data-crunching times.
The unified database platform,
called S4 HANA, promises to cut
the time it takes to compile business accounts and forecasts to
minutes, instead of hours or days,
by analysing vast amounts of
data in local memory rather than
slower magnetic disk drives.
“I expect a nice tailwind of
growth out of this,” Chief Executive Bill McDermott said of
S4, speaking at SAP’s annual
capital markets meeting at the
New York Stock Exchange. “We
are really ready to come out and
start accelerating,” he said.
Established software makers
such as SAP are battling to boost
Internet software sales and fend
off pure cloud-based rivals such
as and Workday.
All major database vendors
including Oracle, IBM , Microsoft and Teradata also offer “inmemory” versions and dozens
more rivals supply predictive
analytics software in the cloud.
Yet, SAP has staked out a big,
early lead in the market for realtime business planning software
by signing up around 2,000 of its
corporate customers to HANA,
according to some analysts.
SAP’s existing Business Suite
is used by around 50,000 multinationals to manage financials,
sales and marketing and manufacturing, and results in a big
chunk of profits.
For most firms, accounting
requires an elaborate scheduling effort known to managers
as quarterly closing, which involves synchronising financial
data companywide to create a
snapshot in time. This is often
days or weeks old before results
are ready.
SAP’s newer approach, in development for four years and
used for thousands of customers already, combines its superfast, ‘in-memory’ database
with business analysis. This lets
company planners look at actual
financial transactions to create
current financial reports or to
predict future business conditions.
“It’s about managing a business in detail rather than in
the aggregate,” Forrester analyst George Lawrie said of deep
changes in the way many companies may now be run. “That
means looking through the
windshield rather than the rearview mirror.”
Speaking to investors, SAP
executives defended a shift to
deliver more software as cloudbased Internet services rather
than packaged software running
on customers’ in-house computers.
Chief Financial Officer Luka
Mucic predicted that gross margins for its cloud business would
grow nine percentage points by
2020, while margins in its software licenses would expand by
a more modest 2 percentage
points in that period.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Corporate America feels pain as recovery lifts households
orporate America’s pain is US
consumers’ gain. Company
profits - and their shares - have
been sideswiped by tumbling energy
prices, a strengthening dollar and rising labour costs. Those same forces are
lifting consumers’ spirits as they pay
less for gasoline at the pump and for
imported suits at the mall while reaping the benefits of a tighter jobs market.
“There are strong cross-currents
in the economy” as households prosper and businesses suffer, said David
Hensley, director of global economics
for JPMorgan Chase & Co in New York.
“The balance, though, is positive for
While consumer spending fell in
December by the most in five years,
households were taking a breather after a surge in buying during the previous two months. For the fourth quarter
as a whole, household expenditures
rose at the fastest clip in almost nine
years, according to data from the Commerce Department in Washington.
Typically, a shift in income away
from companies to workers marks
the beginning of the end of an expansion: Stronger salaries lead to faster
inflation, prompting the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates. But with
wage gains muted and inflation below the central bank’s 2% target, Fed
policy makers have signalled they’re
in no rush to announce their first rate
increase since 2006 and will be restrained in tightening credit once they
“The expansion is still middleaged,” Hensley said.
Gross domestic product will advance
3.2% in 2015, its best performance
since 2005, according to the median
forecast of 81 economists, surveyed
by Bloomberg News from January 9 to
January 14. It climbed 2.4% last year.
Consumers, whose spending accounts for close to 70% of GDP, are
leading the way. Their confidence
jumped to an 11- year high in the latest monthly survey by the University
of Michigan as steady job gains and
plunging gas prices boosted sentiment.
Businesses are more reserved. Factory activity expanded in January at the
slowest pace in a year as orders cooled,
a sign that weakness in overseas markets is restraining US manufacturing.
The Institute for Supply Management’s index dropped to 53.5 from 55.1
in December, a report from the Tempe,
Arizona-based group showed on February 2. That’s still above the 50 mark
that signals growth.
A variety of companies - from consumer-goods Corp Procter & Gamble
Co to pharmaceutical maker Pfizer complained last week that the stronger
dollar will cut into their profits by reducing the value of foreign sales. The
Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which
tracks its performance against a basket of 10 leading currencies, has risen
about 9% since September 30, 2014.
Yardeni Research Inc last week cut
its forecast for earnings of S&P 500
companies this year by $5 per share,
to $120, partly in reaction to the rising
dollar, president and founder Edward
Yardeni wrote. He also lowered the
New York-based company’s end-ofyear target for the stock gauge to 2,150
from 2,300.
The economy, though, is less exposed to the drawbacks of a stronger
currency and weaker global growth,
according to Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group in New
York. He sees GDP rising 3.3% in 2015.
Foreign sales accounted for 46.3%
of revenue for the S&P index companies in 2013, based on compilations by
S&P Dow Jones Indices in New York.
By contrast, US exports comprised just
13.5% of GDP that year.
Consumers, meanwhile, benefit as
the robust dollar reduces price for imports, including oil. Joseph LaVorgna,
chief US economist at Deutsche Bank
Securities in New York, reckons that
each 1 cent per gallon drop in gasoline
prices boosts US household purchas-
ing power by about $1bn. The price for
a gallon of regular gas has fallen 44%
from late June, based on data from motoring group AAA.
With transportation accounting for
about 70% of US petroleum consumption, households probably will be bigger beneficiaries from the oil-price
decline than businesses, said Jonathan
Cogan, spokesman for the US Energy
Information Administration in Washington.
Oil companies, of course, are suffering. ConocoPhillips, the third-largest
US energy producer, reported its first
quarterly loss since 2008 on January
29 as new output failed to make up for
the worst oil-price crash in five years.
Workers are starting to enjoy the
benefits of a shift in the balance of
power in the job market.
At 5.6% in December, the jobless rate
is close to the 5.2% to 5.5% range most
Fed policy makers reckon is equivalent
to full employment. In addition, almost half of US states raised mandated
minimum wages for workers on Janu-
Greek bonds slide as banks
roiled by ECB warning shot
reece’s government bonds tumbled with bank debt and equities as the European Central
Bank jolted markets with its decision to
restrict access to funding lines for the
nation’s financial institutions.
Greek assets had already slumped after the anti-austerity Syriza party triumphed at January 25 elections. Now,
the ECB’s decision will raise financing
costs for the nation’s lenders, adding to
pressure on the newly elected government to moderate its policies or risk
sterner measures that may jeopardize
Greece’s membership of the 19-nation
currency bloc.
“This is clearly a warning shot,” said
Christian Lenk, a fixed-income analyst
at DZ Bank in Frankfurt. “It’s certainly
showing that the ECB is not willing to
let the new Greek government go ahead
the way it was planning to go.”
Greek three-year note yields increased 45 basis points, or 0.45 percentage point, to 16.78% at 4:45 p.m.
in London. The ASE Index of stocks in
Athens dropped 3.4%, with a gauge of
lenders slumping 10%, while the bonds
of Greece’s four biggest banks also declined. The cost of insuring against
losses on Greek sovereign debt jumped
and credit-default swaps now signal
there’s a 68% chance the nation will
default within the next five years.
The yield on Greek three-year notes
surged from last year’s low of 3.07% set
in August as the rise of Syriza threatened the austerity measures demanded
by international creditors in return for
financial aid. Greece’s bonds already
came through the biggest debt restructuring in history after private bondholders wrote down about €100bn ($114bn)
in 2012 as part of its bailout agreement.
The government is holding fast to its
demand to roll back austerity measures.
Talks between Finance Minister Yanis
Varoufakis and his German counterpart
Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Thursday
yielded no agreement on how to narrow
their differences. Varoufakis called for
a bridging programme until the end of
May and said Greece will do everything
to avoid default.
While they stabilised at the start of
this week, markets are already flagging
rising risks on Greek assets.
Greek bonds pared declines with
their Spanish and Italian peers amid
speculation the ECB’s 1.1tn-euro
bond-buying plan will shield euro-area
debt from the the latest financial turmoil.
The yield on Greece’s 10-year bonds
were little changed at 9.69% after
climbing to 10.77%. While they’re below the post-election high of 11.40%
set on February 2, the yields are up from
8.41% on January 23, before the vote.
The price of the 2% bond due in February 2025 was at 60.94% of face value.
Three-year notes yield about 7 percentage points more than the 10-year
securities. That may reflect investors’
concern they won’t get paid back in
Credit-default swaps on $10mn of
the country’s bonds now cost $4.2mn
in advance and $100,000 annually, according to CMA. That compares with
$4mn upfront yesterday.
Since former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced presidential
elections in December, intraday stock
swings for the ASE have doubled from
their one-year average, data compiled
by Bloomberg show. Before a rebound
earlier this week, Greek banks fell to
a record, losing more than €8.6bn of
market value in the three days ended
January 28.
Piraeus Bank SA dropped 9.7% and
National Bank of Greece SA slid 20%.
The bonds of National Bank of Greece
and Piraeus Bank also led declines in
Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Euro
Financial High Yield Index.
The next move may be up to Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras, who swept to
power promising to reverse five years of
spending cuts that accompanied 240bn
euros of bailout loans.
The ECB “is testing,” Hans Humes,
founder of Greylock Capital Management, which owns Greek debt and equity, said in an interview on Bloomberg
Television’s “Street Smart” with Trish
Regan on Wednesday in New York.
“There was a bit of momentum coming from Tsipras and Varoufakis’s roadshow. This may just be a call for them to
get serious and knuckle down. We’ll see
the reaction.”
Rating company DBRS placed Greece
Some people love conspiracy theories
and the latest is that the Australian central
bank is deliberately weakening its currency to save the country’s big iron ore
That’s the opinion of Lourenco Goncalves, chief executive of US-based iron
ore and coal miner Cliffs Natural Resources
but, like virtually all such theories, it fails
the test of logic and credibility.
Goncalves argues that the Reserve
Bank of Australia (RBA) has manipulated
its currency to help his much bigger rivals,
the Anglo-Australian pair of Rio Tinto and
BHP Billiton .
In comments made, the same day Australia’s benchmark rate was cut by 25 basis
points to a historical low of 2.25%, the
outspoken CEO said the RBA was “taking
no prisoners” with the Australian dollar.
“They want to help BHP, they want to
help Rio Tinto, they want to help that lady
over there, Gina whatever,” Goncalves said,
a reference to Australia’s richest person,
Gina Rinehart, whose company is due to
start up the 55mn tonne a year Roy Hill
mine in Western Australia later this year.
“They are going to continue to help
Fortescue Metals Group and they will
believe that they will always crush Chinese
producers. Big mistake, but it is what it is,”
Goncalves was reported as saying by the
Sydney Morning Herald.
The comments have attracted a lot of
attention in Australia.
As with all good conspiracy theories,
there is an element of truth to them, in so
far as the RBA has made it clear for more
than a year that it believes the Australian
dollar is overvalued, especially in the light
of the sharp fall in commodity prices in the
second half of last year.
But the suggestion that the interest rate
cut was designed to help specific companies is laughable and betrays a complete
lack of understanding as to how the RBA
The RBA’s main function is to control
to launch
The European Central Bank headquarters is seen in Frankfurt. The ECB’s decision to restrict access to funding lines will raise
financing costs for Greek’s lenders.
under review, citing risks to financial
stability and debt sustainability.
German bonds were little changed on
Thursday. The yield on 30- year German securities was at 0.96% after earlier touching 0.902%, the lowest since
Bloomberg started tracking the data
in 1994. The rate on the nation’s twoyear notes dropped to as low as minus
0.21%, while the 10-year yield was at
Spain’s 10-year yield climbed two
basis points to 1.45% and Italy’s was
little changed at 1.54%.
Losses may be limited by the prospect of the ECB’s bond-buying plan,
announced last month, according
to Stephen Cohen, chief investment
strategist for international fixed income at BlackRock.
ECB President Mario Draghi pledged
January 22 to tackle slowing price
growth by pumping money into the
region’s economies through purchases
of public and private debt. Since the
day before the announcement, German
bonds have returned 1.5%, Italy’s have
added 2%, while Greece’s slumped
2.9%, according to Bloomberg World
Bond Indexes.
“The key thing is, what is the contagion outside of Greece?” Cohen said in
an interview on Bloomberg Television’s
“On The Move” with Jonathan Ferro.
“If you go back two or three years ago,
anything like this and you’d have seen
an immediate reaction in other markets. Interestingly in the last couple of
weeks, what you’ve seen really is that
it has been fairly muted. The big game
changer is the ECB.”
BlackRock is the world’s biggest
money manager, with more than $4tn
of assets under management.
Greek debt delivered the worst returns among euro-area sovereign
securities tracked by Bloomberg’s
World Bond Indexes this year through
Wednesday. They lost 0.9%, while
Germany’s returned 2.2% and Italy’s
earned 2.9%.
Currency conspiracy theory wide of the mark with iron ore
By Clyde Russell
Launceston, Australia
ary 1.Alicia Courtney, 28, sees the improvement firsthand.
Feeling “kind of stuck” in her old
job, she said she began looking for a
new one in August. Search service
FlexJobs helped her land a position in
mid-November as an account manager
at EmoryDay, a digital marketing company.
“There are certainly more jobs available out there,” said Courtney, who
is earning about 20% more now and
works from home in Lawrenceburg,
Indiana. “This is exactly what I wanted. I was pretty confident I’d find a new
job, and it wasn’t too difficult.”
The shift is problematic for corporate earnings, unless bosses get more
production out of their employees.
Peter Bensen, chief financial officer at
McDonald’s Corp, said rising labour
costs are squeezing earnings at the
world’s biggest restaurant chain.
The profit “margin in the US will
continue to be a little bit pressured,”
he told analysts on a January 23 conference call.
inflation while keeping employment at an
optimal level for economic growth.
Inflation is currently muted – 1.7% yearon-year in the fourth quarter of last year,
below the RBA’s 2-3% target range.
This means the RBA is more worried
about employment, and that is indeed
what it highlighted in the release accompanying the rate cut.
While the resources sector accounts
for much of Australia’s export earnings,
mining only employs 2.4% of the working population, putting it well behind
sectors such as health and education,
manufacturing, retail trade and financial
It’s these sectors the RBA would have
been targeting with a rate cut, aiming to
provide relief to manufacturers while at
the same time boosting business and consumer confidence in the expectation that
this would increase lending and spending.
If the rate cut has the added impact of
lowering the value of the Australian dollar,
that is an added bonus for the RBA, not its
central aim.
But let’s assume for a moment that
Goncalves is correct, and that the RBA is
deliberately weakening the currency to
boost the fortunes of his rivals.
If that is the case, it’s not really achieving very much.
Yes, the Australian dollar did slump
0.5% to a near-six-year low on the day of
the rate cut.
But that was the first rate cut since August 2013, and in the period of absolutely
steady rates between then and this week’s
reduction, the local dollar slumped 15%
against its US counterpart.
This suggests it’s not RBA action that is
driving the value of the Australian dollar.
Rather, it has been losing value against the
greenback, along with other currencies, as
the US Federal Reserve moved to end its
quantitative easing and signal interest rate
How much of a boost has the weaker
Australian dollar been to iron ore miners?
The answer is it has helped to lower costs,
but probably not by that much.
Spot iron ore in Asia dropped to $61.40
a tonne on Wednesday, to be down 13.8%
so far this year, adding to the 47% decline
in 2014.
In Australian dollar terms it is down 9.1%
so far this year, having dropped 42% over
This has no doubt helped lower the
US dollar cash cost per tonne of ore
produced, but not to the same extent as
the more than 50% plunge in crude oil
prices since the middle of last year, given
miners’ reliance on diesel for power and
Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that
Goncalves’ company produces some 11mn
tonnes of iron ore annually at its mining
complex in Western Australia state, which
is about half of what the company produces in the US.
Presumably he, too, then is a beneficiary
of the weaker Australian dollar, but for this
he should be thanking the Fed rather than
blaming the RBA.
Clyde Russell is a Reuters columnist.
The views expressed are his own.
ritish fund manager Neil
plans yesterday to launch
a £200mn ($306mn) investment
trust, aiming to make long-term
investments in British companies and profit from taking a
more patient approach.
Woodford is one of Britain’s
best-performing and most
high-profile fund managers after making money throughout
the financial crisis. Last year,
he launched his own firm after
more than 25 years at Invesco
Perpetual and took in billions of
pounds to his Woodford Equity
Income Fund.
Woodford Investment Management said the new fund
would trade on the stock exchange as an investment trust
and would target a range of
companies, both quoted and unquoted, aiming to deliver returns
of more than 10% a year over the
longer term.
The lack of a longer-term approach among the broader investment community had created a compelling opportunity
to support businesses with outstanding intellectual property,
the asset manager said.
The move echoes a regulatory drive to ensure financial
service firms take a longerterm view to better serve clients such as pension schemes,
which also have a multi-year
investment horizon.
“Patient capital is the missing
component for many companies
and the reason why great innovation hasn’t translated into
commercial success for the UK
economy,” Neil Woodford said
in the statement, referring to his
“Patient capital investors
work closely with early-stage
businesses and help nurture
them to achieve commercial
success. It takes involvement,
flexibility and above all, it takes
Against a backdrop of reduced
bank lending after the financial
crisis, Woodford said capital
open to young British firms was
scarce and too short-term in nature.
While Woodford did not
specify how long the average period of an investment would be,
rival mutual funds globally hold
stocks for an average of less than
a year, Lipper data showed.
The new trust, to be called the
Woodford Patient Capital Trust,
is expected to begin trading in
mid-April, the statement said,
with Winterflood Securities acting as sole sponsor, financial advisor and bookrunner.
In an unusual twist, Woodford
said it would not charge investors a fee to manage the investments and would instead be rewarded based on performance,
through the issue of ordinary
shares in the company.
spokesperson for industry body
the AIC, said the charge structure was unique.
“I’m sure the rest of the industry will be interested to see
how this works out. If it works
out well, it may be something
that they would follow.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Moody’s reports better-than-expected quarterly profit
fourth quarter ended December 31. Net income rose to $361mn,
or 49 cents per share, from $174mn, or 22 cents per share, a year
Adjusted for deferred revenue and other items, the company
earned 94 cents per share, handily beating an expected 88 cents.
“The core business is great,” Pachter said.
Activision Blizzard’s hit military-action game “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” was the top-selling console video game globally
in 2014, while “Skylanders Trap Team” was the top-selling kids
video game globally.
Credit rating agency Moody’s Corp reported a better-thanexpected quarterly profit, driven by strong growth in its analytics
business and higher debt issuance in the US.
Revenue from the company’s bond ratings business, its largest,
rose 7.4% to $565.1mn in the fourth quarter ended December 31.
The business accounts for about 64% of total revenue.
Revenue from the analytics division, which sells financial research
and data for assessing risk, rose 23% to $312.4mn.
The rating company has ramped up its financial services business
by buying analytics software provider Lewtan Technologies in
October and US loan origination software maker WebEquity Solutions in June.
High grade corporate debt offerings in the US totalled $1.1tn in
2014, an increase of 9% compared with a year earlier, according
to Thomson Reuters data.
The US Department of Justice is investigating Moody’s Investors
Services for issuing favourable grades on mortgage deals in the
lead-up to the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported
earlier this month, citing sources.
Rival Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, a unit of McGraw Hill
Financial, said earlier this week that it would pay $1.5bn to resolve
a collection of lawsuits over its ratings on mortgage securities
that soured in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
Net income attributable to Moody’s rose to $236.3mn, or $1.12 per
share, in the fourth quarter ended December 31, from $206.7mn,
or 94 cents per share, a year earlier.
Moody’s authorized a $1bn share buyback programme and raised
its quarterly dividend by 21% to 34 cents in December.
The company’s revenue rose 13% to $877.5mn.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 95 cents per share,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Moody’s forecast full-year earnings per share of $4.55 to $4.65.
Analysts on average estimate a profit of $4.57.
Moody’s shares closed at $93.27 on the New York Stock Exchange
on Thursday. Up to Thursday’s close, the stock had risen about
25% this year.
Faced with maturing growth in the US, the company has been
stepping up efforts to expand in international markets, albeit
without much success.
Only 3% of Yelp’s sales come from overseas markets, where it
competes with companies such as TripAdvisor, a travel review
website that helps search restaurant and hotels.
Moreover, international subscriber numbers have remained flat at
around 30mn in the past four quarters.
First Analysis analyst Todd Van Fleet said the company disappointed on some key performance metrics, with total unique
visitors “plateauing” on both mobile and desktop.
“The other element that keeps on disappointing is the performance on the international front. International revenue just can’t
seem to find any traction,” Van Fleet added.
Growth in average monthly unique visitors slowed to 13% from
39% a year earlier, while total unique visitors fell for the first time
on a quarter-over-quarter basis.
Yelp said on a conference call that it expanded into 25 countries
in 2014. As of December 2013, Yelp was present in 56 international
Elizabeth Arden
CBOE Holdings
CBOE Holdings, operator of the largest US stock-options market,
reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit as higher expenses offset a surge in trading volumes.
Net income allocated to common stockholders rose to $49.1mn,
or 58 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended December 31,
from $45.6mn, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings were 64 cents per share. Analysts on average
had expected 66 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Operating revenue rose 17% to $166.5mn.
However, operating costs increased 15% to $79.5mn, mainly due
to a spike in volume-based expenses, which include royalty fees
and trading volume incentives.
Average daily volume rose 15% to 5.64mn contracts during the
Increased volatility has lifted trading volumes since CBOE said in
the second quarter it would cut expenses due to weak volumes.
Last year, total trading volume for options contracts on CBOE’s
Chicago Board Options Exchange and C2 Options Exchange and
for futures contracts on CBOE Futures Exchange climbed 12% to a
record 1.3bn contracts, or an average of 5.3mn contracts a day.
CME Group, the world’s largest futures market operator, reported
better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday and said it
would shut nearly all of its futures pits in New York and Chicago
as it pushes ahead with cost-cutting measures.
CBOE shares closed at $65.14 on Thursday on the Nasdaq. They
have climbed 28% in the past year, compared to gains of 26% for
CME Group.
Action camera maker GoPro forecast a current-quarter profit that
could miss Wall Street expectations and said its chief operating
officer was resigning, sending its shares down nearly 18% after
the bell.
Nina Richardson, chief operating officer for the last two years, will
leave the company effective February 27, GoPro said in a regulatory filing. It did not give a reason for her departure.
GoPro, a pioneer in making cameras for mounting on helmets,
bikes and surfboards, forecast a profit of 15-17 cents per share on
sales of $330-$340mn for the first quarter of 2015.
Analysts were expecting a profit of 17 cents per share on revenue
of $324.7mn, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
San Mateo, California-based GoPro dominates the global action
camera market with a 94% share - closest rival Sony Corp has
just 3%. Hair-raising videos shot by its cameras have made a big
splash on the Internet.
GoPro’s resounding success has prompted the likes of Garmin
Ltd, Panasonic Corp and Polaroid to launch their own action cameras. The market has also attracted the attention of Apple.
GoPro’s shares swung wildly in extended trading. Before their
dramatic reversal, they gained 14% after the company announced
revenue growth of 75% for a holiday shopping quarter during
which it sold 2.4mn cameras.
That translates as roughly 1,000 units sold every hour, said
Nicholas Woodman, GoPro’s founder and chief executive. Targeting holiday season shoppers, the company launched the latest
version of its flagship Hero camera and a cheaper, entry-level
Yelp signed up fewer subscribers and business customers in the
fourth quarter, raising concerns about the consumer review website operator’s slowing growth in the US and its ability to boost
revenue from overseas markets.
Shares of the company, which operates, fell more than
10% in extended trading as the weakness in subscriber numbers
overshadowed better-than-expected quarterly results.
Twitter said on Thursday the social media company is signing
up users as quickly as most of last year after a fourth-quarter
slowdown, boosting its shares 11%.
Twitter beat Wall Street’s profit and revenue targets in the fourth
quarter. User growth weakened in the quarter, but picked up in
the new year, Chief Executive Dick Costolo said in a statement.
Twitter added 13mn to 16mn users in each of the first three
quarters of 2014 and was on track to hit a similar number in the
current quarter, it said. That compares with a rise of about 4mn in
the fourth quarter to 288mn monthly users as of Dec. 31.
Costolo said on a conference call that quarterly specific factors,
including seasonality and the launch of Apple’s new mobile operating system, slowed additions in the fourth quarter.
Shares of Twitter, which initially slipped after the results were
released on Thursday, rose in after-hours trade to $45.91 from
their closing price of $41.26.
Twitter, which allows users to broadcast 140-character messages,
is among the world’s best known social media services, used by
politicians, celebrities and activists. But the company has struggled to grow, raising questions about whether it can achieve the
scale of Facebook, the world’s No.1 social network with 1.39bn
Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, recently
surpassed Twitter’s audience size and announced it had 300mn
monthly users.
Twitter said revenue in the quarter ended December 31 rose to
$479mn from $243mn in the year-ago period. Analysts polled by
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had estimated $453.1mn.
Twitter posted a net loss of $125mn in the fourth quarter, or 20
cents per share. Excluding certain items, Twitter earned 12 cents
per share, surpassing analysts’ average estimate of 6 cents a
A string of senior executives have left the San Francisco company
in the past six months, and CEO Costolo is facing mounting criticism on Wall Street. One prominent analyst predicted in December that Costolo would not last another year on the job.
Twitter has rolled out a string of features and improvements to
make its service easier to use and entice people to spend more
time with it. And the company has taken steps to expand its reach
with a new program to distribute ads to other websites.
Twitter projected that first-quarter revenue would range from
$440mn to $450mn. Analysts were looking for $449.7mn.
Twitter’s stock has rallied roughly 10% the past several days
following news of a string of partnerships and new products, but
remains nearly below its 52-week high of $58.98.
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines yesterday said its third-quarter net profit more
than quadrupled, boosted by one-off gains from its absorption of
struggling budget carrier Tiger Airways.
Net profit in the three months to December 31 surged to
Sg$202.6mn ($150.6mn) from Sg$50.1mn a year ago.
“The improvement was primarily attributable to a Sg$56mn exceptional gain compared to an exceptional loss of Sg$80mn last
year,” the airline, known as SIA, said in a filing to the Singapore
But the Asian carrier warned plummeting oil prices were not
necessarily a boon for the aviation industry, predicting that the
slump could herald a global economic slowdown.
SIA currently owns 55.8% of Tiger Airways after making annexing
it as a subsidiary following after the Singapore-based low-cost
carrier suffered heavy losses.
SIA’s own third-quarter earnings last year were weighed down by
a huge legal settlement in the US.
But the airline said Tiger Airway’s earnings boosted its own in the
third quarter of this year by Sg$120mn.
Those gains offset a Sg$216mn fuel “hedging loss” after crude oil
prices slumped by almost half from peaks in June.
Fuel costs rose 5.9% to Sg$1.49bn for the quarter, despite the fall
in crude prices.
“While the decline in oil prices is generally positive for the airline
industry, hedging and competition will limit the effect on the
group’s earnings,” SIA said.
“Moreover, falling oil prices may be a manifestation of a slowdown in global economic activity, which may ultimately have a
negative effect on air travel demand.”
The airline said revenue for the October-December quarter rose
to Sg$4.10bn, compared with Sg$3.88bn a year ago, as passenger
fares increased.
SIA, Asia’s third-largest carrier by market value according to
Bloomberg News, said advanced bookings for the JanuaryMarch quarter were looking up “largely due to Chinese New Year
Activision Blizzard
Videogame maker Activision Blizzard, known for its “Call of Duty”
and “Destiny” titles, forecast revenue for the first quarter below
market estimates, factoring in the impact of a strengthening
Shares of Activision Blizzard, also known for its “World of
Warcraft”, “Skylanders” and “Diablo” games, were down 8.3% in
extended trading on Thursday.
The dollar had risen 15.6% in the six months through Wednesday.
Activision Blizzard earns about half of its revenue from outside
the US.
“As a vast majority of our product development and head count
costs are US-based, we have fewer natural cost offsets to dampen
the impact of currency translation,” Chief Financial Officer Dennis
Durkin said on a conference call.
Activision Blizzard forecast an adjusted profit of 5 cents per share
and adjusted revenue of $640mn for the quarter ending March.
Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 18 cents per share
and revenue of $777.7mn, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company also forecast adjusted profit of $1.15 per share and
adjusted revenue of $4.40bn for 2015. Analysts were expecting a
profit of $1.43 per share and revenue of $4.71bn.
Activision Blizzard launched a two-year share buyback plan of
The company’s forecast was “unrealistically low,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters. “It looks to me that
they want to buy their stock back cheaply.”
Activision Blizzard’s adjusted revenue fell 2.6% to $2.27bn for the
Elizabeth Arden reported a bigger-than-expected 20% drop in
quarterly revenue, citing lower sales of its celebrity fragrances
and changes to the way its beauty products are distributed in
The company’s shares fell 7.7% after the bell.
Elizabeth Arden said a decline in sales of its celebrity fragrances,
which include the Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj
brands, would continue to hurt the results of its North American
business in the second half of the year to June.
Net sales in its fragrance business, which accounted for nearly
70% of the company’s net sales, fell 18% in the second quarter
ended December 31.
The company also raised its forecast for pre-tax restructuring
charges in its current financial year to June 30 to $92mn-$99mn
from $65mn-$72mn.
Some of these charges relate to changes to the company’s distribution strategy in China. In its results statement, the company did
not give details of these changes.
Net loss attributable to Elizabeth Arden’s shareholders was
$56.8mn, or $1.90 per share, for the second quarter ended
December 31, versus a profit of $35.0mn, or $1.16 per share, a year
Excluding items, the company reported a profit of 28 cents per
share - its first after four straight loss-making quarters.
Net sales fell to $333.6mn from $418.1mn a year earlier.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 59 cents per share
on revenue of $366.5mn, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Larger rival Estee Lauder Cos had a better holiday shopping
quarter. Earlier on Thursday, it reported higher second-quarter
revenue, helped by higher demand for its skin care and makeup
GrubHub forecast better-than-expected revenue for the current
quarter, bolstered by two acquisitions that will allow the company
to deliver food from 3,000 restaurants direct to US customers.
GrubHub’s purchase of DiningIn and Restaurants on the Run
gives the company a head start over other potential new entrants
to the restaurant delivery business. and Google are
experimenting with same-day deliveries.
The company’s shares closed up 6.2% on Thursday.
Until now, GrubHub, a $3bn company, has received a commission from restaurants on orders booked through its website and
mobile app. The restaurants deliver the food themselves.
For about the past year, it has carried out limited testing of its
own deliveries in San Francisco, Los Angeles and its home city of
Chicago - a service that it will now begin in earnest.
“We are investing heavily in that, as we believe higher quality
service will accelerate our growth and our capture of that $70bn
opportunity in front of us,” Matt Maloney, the company’s chief
executive and co-founder, told Reuters.
Online food delivery companies have benefited as more people
use smartphones and other devices to order over the Internet.
GrubHub users in more than 800 US cities, as well as London, can
order everything from expensive steaks to bento boxes.
The number of active diners using its services rose 47% to about
5mn in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from a year earlier.
Maloney said the two acquisitions, announced on Thursday,
would add combined annual revenue in excess of $25mn. The
company closed the acquisition of DiningIn on Wednesday and
expects to close the Restaurants on the Run deal within a month.
GrubHub forecast revenue of $83mn to $85mn for the current
quarter, beating the average analyst estimate of $80.1mn, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net income rose to $10.8mn, or 13 cents per share, in the fourth
quarter ended December 31 from $2.2mn, or 3 cents per share, a
year earlier.
Telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent pledged to lift profitability again this year through cost cuts after six straight quarters
of gross margin improvements and also plans to list its undersea
cables business in the second half.
Chief Executive Michel Combes expressed confidence yesterday
that the company would deliver on the central pledge of his
turnaround plan which started in June 2013 by achieving positive
free cash flow by the end of this year.
Fourth-quarter sales fell 6% to €3.68bn ($4.2bn), in line with expectations. Operating profit doubled from a year earlier to reach
€284mn but was still about 10% lower than forecasts as the pace
of cost cuts eased from the previous three months.
A slowdown in spending by big US telecoms customers Verizon
and AT&T that have largely finished building 4G mobile networks
hurt revenues. Internet equipment, a smaller but promising business at the heart of Combes’ strategy, continued to grow.
“These earnings demonstrate clearly that Alcatel-Lucent is back
in the game,” Combes said on a conference call.
Alcatel-Lucent’s shares had risen 6.5% this year, giving the group
a market capitalisation of €8.9bn.
Exane BNP Paribas analyst Alexander Peterc predicted that analysts would trim forecasts for this year by 3-5%, calling the shares
“slightly overvalued” after the recent rally.
Alcatel-Lucent competes with Sweden’s Ericsson, China’s Huawei
and Finland’s Nokia. It has not achieved regular profits since its
creation in 2006 because it is smaller in the mobile sector than
rivals and faces tough competition from Chinese vendors.
In the current reporting season, Ericsson has also posted fourthquarter sales below expectations, hit by slower spending by AT&T
and Verizon.
However, Nokia has gained ground in the US thanks to deals with
smaller operators Sprint and T-Mobile US that are still building
out 4G.
Combes has been trying to remedy Alcatel-Lucent’s shortcomings through an aggressive restructuring plan that has seen the
company lay off 10,000 people, sell assets worth about 600mn
euros, and carry out a 1bn euro capital increase to shore up its
Norwegian oil giant Statoil cut back on planned investments
yesterday as annual profits were slashed in half in the wake of
tumbling oil prices and heavy write-downs.
The company reported annual profits of 21.9bn kroner ($2.9bn,
€2.5bn) for 2014 compared to 39.9bn kroner the year before and
announced a 10% cut in its $20bn-investment budget for this
“Statoil’s quarterly earnings were affected by the sharp drop in
oil prices,” the group’s new chief executive Eldar Saetre said in a
Hit by oil prices which fell by about a half since the summer and
heavy write-downs of assets, Statoil went into the red in the
second half of the year and recorded a net loss of 8.9bn kroner in
the last quarter.
Adjusted earnings—without exceptional items—stood at 136.1bn
kroner compared to 163.1bn in 2013 and turnover was down 1.6%
to 606.8bn kroner.
The group - 67%-owned by the Norwegian state—said it was stepping up an efficiency programme to generate savings of $1.7bn
per year from 2016 and that an 8% cut in the workforce last year
could be followed by further staff reductions.
Despite a rebound towards the end of the year, the company’s oil
and natural gas production fell by one% to 1.93mn barrels equivalent per day in 2014.
Statoil, which employs 23,000, forecasted an annual increase
of two% in organic production to 2016, and of three% from
2016 to 2018.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
ECB’s bond buying plans
ripple across US markets
New York
ven the world’s biggest bond
market is getting a boost from the
European Central Bank.
President Mario Draghi’s plan to buy
government debt is suppressing rates in
the euro region and boosting the appeal
of higher-yielding US bonds. That’s
driving down yields on Treasuries, defying prospects of higher interest rates
from policy makers closer to home at
the Federal Reserve.
“In 25 years as a fund manager I have
never been so bullish on US Treasuries,”
said Eric Vanraes, who helps oversee
about $2bn at EI Sturdza Investment
Funds in Geneva. “Other fund managers say you are crazy just before the
central bank is at the start of a more
hawkish view. But markets don’t work
like that. You have central banks being
more and more accommodative around
the world.”
Far from leading market trends
across the world, the $12.5tn Treasury market has been influenced from
across the Atlantic as the ECB turns to
so-called quantitative easing to revive
the European economy just as the Fed
ended stimulus.
US 30-year bond yields fell to a
record 2.219% on January 30, about 0.3
percentage point less than at the height
of the financial crisis in 2008. They fell
2 basis points, or 0.02 percentage point,
to 2.42% in Europe yesterday.
Futures trading showing a more than
50% chance of US rates rising in 2015
hasn’t stopped yields reaching levels
that Fed Bank of St Louis President
James Bullard described as “astonishingly low.” In a speech in Newark, Delaware, on February 3, he cited the 10year Treasury yield at below 2%.
“That’s because it’s a global market,”
he said. “This is a decline in longerterm yields that doesn’t really have
much to do with the fundamental factors in the US economy. It is coming to
us courtesy of the ECB.”
The latest monthly ECB data show
that euro region residents purchased
Draghi: New measures to boost global economic growth.
€36bn ($41bn) of foreign debt securities in November, taking the threemonth total to €110bn. Darren Williams, senior European economist at
AllianceBernstein in London, said in a
report last month it was the strongest
outflow since the financial crisis struck
and he expected the trend to continue
because of quantitative easing.
Treasuries with a maturity of more
than 10 years have gained about 1.2%
since the ECB announced its plan to
buy government debt, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg. Even after their drop, US 30-year government
bond yields are still about 1.48 percentage points more than those of similar
debt in Germany, the widest spread
based on closing prices since Bloomberg started tracking the data in 1994.
Geneva-based Vanraes said his firm
is betting that longer- dated Treasury
bonds will outperform securities with
shorter maturities, leading to a flattening of the so-called yield curve. Tenyear yields may drop to as low as 1%,
while those on 30-year bonds could
reach 1.5%, compared with 2.39% yesterday.
“You have global core bond yields
moving lower which is making the US
long end look relatively cheap,” said
Jabaz Mathai, head of US interest rate
strategy at Citigroup in New York. “On
top of low inflation risk that’s also driving the long end lower, ECB QE purchases reduce the available supply of
debt and this is supportive for the US
Danish rate
cut unlikely to
ease upward
on crown
Eighteen European countries had
10-year government bond yields lower
than the Treasury’s yield at the end of
last week, according to data compiled
by Bloomberg.
Switzerland, which doesn’t use the
euro, has 10-year yields that turned
negative on January 16, meaning investors pay to have their money invested in
the country.
Yields across the continent have
fallen as the ECB prepares to begin
its bond-purchase programme. German two-year note yields were negative 0.194% on Thursday compared
with the ECB’s deposit rate of minus
Tumbling yields on German debt,
the euro area’s benchmark sovereign
securities, came as the nation’s inflation rate turned negative last month for
the first time in more than five years,
meaning consumer prices are falling as
activity stalls.
The rate on German 10-year bunds
fell to a record 0.297% on February
2, lower than Japan’s rate, which was
0.347% on Thursday. Japan has experienced four recessions during the past
seven years.
A driver for US rates has been speculation and the eventual announcement
of the ECB’s quantitative-easing programme, which is similar to what the
Fed completed last year.
Previous ECB measures included
cheap loans to banks, buying assets
including covered bonds and the introduction of a fee to park excess cash with
the central bank.
“US yield spreads are relatively wide
versus those in Germany and are pretty
attractive for relative-value investors,”
Tony Bedikian, Boston-based head of
global markets at Citizens Commercial
Banking, a division of Citizens Financial Group Inc, said in a phone interview.
“Investors are buying into a currency in the US where we have relatively
mild inflation but pretty significant
job growth. It’s a little bit of a Goldilocks scenario and that type of economy attracts capital, which seems to
be the case here.”
Pfizer not done with deals even after Hospira purchase
New York
fizer’s deal aspirations are probably bigger than Hospira. Buying
the injectable drugmaker doesn’t
give Pfizer the innovative products and
lower tax rate that the $208bn pharmaceutical giant was seeking in its failed
bid for AstraZeneca last year. Pfizer’s
$17bn bill for Hospira is just a fraction
of the almost $120bn it was willing to
pay for AstraZeneca, so the New Yorkbased company has plenty of capacity
to go after more targets. Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said Pfizer continues to look at opportunities.
A deal for Actavis, which is wrapping up its $66bn purchase of Botoxmaker Allergan Inc, could fulfil Pfizer’s
remaining needs, according to Kevin
Kedra, a Rye, New York-based analyst
at Gabelli & Co. The company could
also look to further bolster its oncology
and vaccine offerings, said John Boris
of SunTrust Banks Inc Big drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie
and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co have also
been named by analysts as potential
Pfizer targets.
“You don’t go from potentially paying $120bn for a major deal to something that’s basically an hors d’oeuvre,”
Boris of SunTrust said in a phone interview. “M&A will continue to be dominant.”
Pfizer had $33bn in cash at the end
of September, the most recent date for
which information is available. It’s using some of that to cover a portion of
the cost for the Hospira deal and issuing new debt to pay for the rest. That
will still leave the company with plenty
of resources for other acquisitions.
“I’m not going to sneeze at a $17bn
deal – it’s a fairly significant move,”
David Heupel, a Minneapolis-based
fund manager at Thrivent Financial
for Lutherans, which oversees about
$90bn, said in a phone interview. “But
they certainly, particularly when you
think about ex-US cash, have plenty
of money that they could deploy. This
doesn’t necessarily close the door on
any acquisition.”
The Hospira deal will add scale and
growth to Pfizer’s established products
business, putting the company in a better position to eventually spin it off as
it has discussed doing. What Hospira
doesn’t offer is a pipeline of innovative products that could replace Pfizer’s
own blockbusters that are losing patent
protections and help reverse four years
of revenue declines.
That could drive Pfizer to a deal with
Actavis, Kedra of Gabelli said. Actavis
is in the process of buying Allergan to
add fast-growing drugs including the
anti-wrinkle treatment Botox and Restasis eye-drops.
Once it completes the deal, the Dublin-based company may also be big
enough for Pfizer to overcome the US
Treasury’s stricter rules on inversions
and strike a deal to lower its tax rate,
Kedra said.
Buying Hospira “checks off some
of the boxes they would have gotten
from AstraZeneca but certainly not all
of them,” Kedra said in a phone interview. With an Actavis takeover, “you
would certainly pick up some innovative growth assets, especially through
the Allergan portfolio. That would help
check off a lot of the boxes that still
seem to be out there.”
Mylan is also a possibility as the
companies already have a relationship
on several projects including EpiPen,
though Pfizer would have to work out
the tax implications of a takeover, said
Boris of SunTrust. Mylan is seeking
to lower its tax bill by buying Abbott
Laboratories’ generic drugs business in
developed markets and moving its legal
address to the Netherlands.
The Hospira acquisition may tip
Pfizer’s hand on where it’s looking for
its next deal, Thrivent’s Heupel said.
“There are plenty of assets out there
that they could buy that would provide
some revenue and feasible growth to
the existing infrastructure the company has – I think that’s part of what this
tells us,” he said. “You could run the
gamut in the generic specialty space.
I think anything would be feasibly
viewed as on the table.”
fourth Danish interest
rate cut in three weeks is
unlikely to ease the upward pressure on the crown,
with some investors still betting
the central bank won’t be able
to defend the three-decade-old
peg to the euro.
The impact on the crown from
Thursday’s 25 basis point cut,
which took the deposit rate to
-0.75%, the same as Switzerland’s, was fleeting, as were verbal interventions by central bank
Governor Lars Rohde. Having
eased to around 7.4485 per euro
immediately after the cut, the
crown was back at 7.4442 to the
euro on Friday.
“Whether the latest rate cut
is enough, or not, is debatable,” said Jens Petersen, senior
analyst at Danske Markets, Copenhagen. “Once the European
Central Bank starts its largescale asset purchases in March,
we will see downward pressure
on the euro and the crown pushing higher.”
The ECB will launch a €1.1tn
quantitative easing programme
in March, which is likely to
weaken the euro. That has already prompted the Swiss National Bank to abandon a threeyear-old cap on the Swiss franc
and driven Denmark’s central
bank to intervene in record
amounts last month.
Denmark’s National Bank has
upped the ante as currency inflows have picked up in recent
weeks on speculation it may also
abandon the crown’s peg.
Under the Exchange Rate
Mechanism (ERM2), Denmark
agreed to keep the crown in a
corridor of 2.25% either side of a
central parity rate of 7.46038 to
the euro. In practice, it has kept
it in a range of 0.50% either side.
The bank is determined to
keep the peg, which has been the
cornerstone of economic policy
since 1982.
Governor Rohde borrowed
a phrase that ECB chief Mario
Draghi used to calm panic over
the euro in 2012, telling Reuters
on Friday that Denmark would
do “whatever it takes” to protect
its fixed currency policy.
Swedish bank SEB said in a
note that part of the latest flows
were connected to FX hedging by
domestic investors and the government had to convince Danes
the “peg will hold”.
“There is a lot of talk about
this right now,” said Anthony
Lawler, head of portfolio management at GAM International Management, when asked
whether funds were targeting
the peg. He added, though, he
was yet to see “massive positions building up by specific
hedge funds”.
Barclays analyst Marvin Bath
said there was a risk of failure
by the Danish central bank given
the rate cuts so far have been
rather small with little impact
on capital inflows.
Global aluminium sector faces threat in growth prospects
By Andy Home
The International Aluminium Institute (IAI)
has announced it will no longer publish its
monthly producer inventory figures.
Its own members, it seems, are either
not submitting the data at all or struggling
to do so on a timely basis. The problems
have become so acute that the IAI now
feels that “the continued reporting of this
incomplete information could be misleading”.
In truth, the figures have lost a lot of
their relevance over the years, a reflection
of the way that the global aluminium sector has evolved, particularly in China.
But their disappearance represents
another light going out in what is already
one of the most statistically opaque base
metal markets.
Aluminium is both the fastest-growing
industrial metal market, thanks to the
inroads being made into the mainstream
automotive sector, and the most dysfunctional, thanks to the splintering of its
pricing model.
Opacity may be part of the pricing
problem. If it is, the lengthening statistical
shadows may also pose a long-term threat
to the metal’s continued growth prospects.
The IAI’s problems collecting its inven-
tory figures became more acute over the
second half of 2014 with 35 smelters, or
around one third of its reporting network,
failing to submit figures on time, or indeed, failing to submit figures at all.
Remember the IAI is at heart a producer
organisation. All its members are producers and its primary function, as stated
on its website, is to “increase the market
for aluminium by enhancing world-wide
awareness of its unique and valuable
Gathering and publishing statistical
information ranks only fifth on its six listed
objectives. For production and inventory
figures it relies on voluntary data submission by both member and non-member
producers. And, particularly when it
comes to inventory, this reporting structure has lost much of its relevance.
The long-term downtrend reflects many
changes over that period, not least the
growth of terminal markets such as the
London Metal Exchange (LME) and a symbiotic shift by producers towards leaner
inventory management.
But it also mirrors the shifts in global
production over that period.
Russia, for example, joined the rest of
the Western market after the fall of the
Berlin Wall, but the IAI doesn’t have inventory figures for the country, even though
Rusal is itself an IAI member.
Even more significantly, its figures do
not include China, which now accounts for
around a half of global production. There
is no inventory information channel such
as exists with the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association for the IAI’s still
closely-monitored production figures.
It’s a far cry from when the IAI first
came into existence in 1972 under its then
name the International Primary Aluminium Institute. Back then the known world’s
aluminium sector was dominated by six
companies. Between them Alcoa, Alcan,
Reynolds, Kaiser, Pechiney and Alusuisse
accounted for around 73% of world production, according to a paper written by
Dr Carmine Nappi to mark the IAI’s 40th
anniversary in 2012.
Even with such caveats, though, analysts have used the IAI’s unwrought aluminium stock figures to attempt to build a
bigger-picture view of global inventory.
Japanese port stocks, for example, are
far too narrow a gauge of what is lying
close to consumers around the world.
Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE)
stocks are merely the very small tip of a
much bigger stocks iceberg in China.
And the LME stock figures have
denoted very little other than the relative
costs of storage between exchange warehouses and off-market sheds since stocks
financing became the dominant game in
town back in 2009.
Yet they are just about all we have to
attempt to work out what’s happening in
this huge market.
Even the IAI’s production figures
present problems. Right now the IAI’s
estimate of unreported output in China is
3.6mn tonnes per year, equivalent to the
combined output in western Europe.
More critically, the IAI doesn’t publish
figures, reported or estimated, for secondary production. Yet scrap’s ratio of metallic
input into US production could be up to
70%, according to analysts at Macquarie.
Those analysts brave enough to attempt it use a combination of bottom-up
and top-down calculations, cross-checking
specific data series such as US service
center shipment figures with end-use
sectors such as automotive and long-term
growth patterns.
Unsurprisingly, given the amount of labour involved, their work is rarely for free.
Missing is the sort of governmentsponsored statistical agency slaving away
in other base metal markets. The various
International Study Groups face the same
problems as the IAI in terms of statistical
black holes, first and foremost in China.
But at least their monthly updates provide some sort of visibility around which
markets can spin their narratives.
The global aluminium market has gone
down a different route, starting with the
“Big Six” that between them controlled almost three-quarters of known production.
In the country of the blind, they evidently took the view that the one-eyed men
could be kings.
But just how well do they see now?
This is a market, after all, that seems
consistently to misunderstand its own
dynamics, whether it be the failure to see
the disastrous accumulation of excess
supply in the global financial crisis or the
failure to see how pricing would fracture
between the LME basis price and physical
premium. So far this has favoured the
consumer, notwithstanding the difficulties
created by exploding physical premiums.
All-in prices are still low and have been
so for many years, assisting aluminium’s
long-term growth story.
But what if one day things change and
the aluminium price starts experiencing
the same sort of frenzied bull market that
characterised copper at the start of this
Andy Home is a columnist for Reuters.
The opinions expressed are his own.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Corporate earnings, strengthened oil prices boost bourse
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Corporate earnings and strengthened
oil prices lent bullish fervour to the
Qatar Stock Exchange, which gained a
whopping 621 points during the week.
Foreign institutions were brisk buyers,
amidst their reduced exposure, during
the week that saw Industries Qatar (IQ)
subsidiary Qatar Fertiliser Company
award a six-year, long-term service
contract to an arm of GE Oil and Gas to
help optimise the performance of its
plant in Mesaieed.
Real estate and industrial stocks saw
above average buying pressure during
the week that saw world oil prices
gain on the back of unrest in Libya
and expected increased demand from
Islamic stocks were seen gaining
much faster than the other investment
classes during the week that saw QSE
aver that it is keen on cooperating and
empowering partnership in a world of
strong alliances, financial crises, and
unstable regional circumstances.
Crude oil prices, however, remains
50% lower from their highs in 2014 and
market views that oil may trade around
$60-70 a barrel in the short to medium
“Oil (futures) market is witnessing
spasmodic changes, which will have its
reflection in the Gulf shores because
of the weightage of hydrocarbons in
the respective economies. Back home,
corporate results are also playing their
role,” an analyst with a brokerage firm
told Gulf Times.
The fact that government has been
reiterating the firmness in capex for
infrastructure development is giving
a bullish outlook to those sectors that
have a direct bearing in with such
expenditure, he said.
Real estate stocks appreciated 11.66%,
followed by industrials (6.56%), banks
and financial services (4.51%), transport
(4.23%), consumer goods (3.31%),
telecom (3.11%) and insurance (0.02%)
during the week that saw a Credit
Agricole economist view that crude is
likely to remain weak in the short to
medium term but it is an opportunity
for the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)
to undertake structural reforms.
The 20-stock Total Return Index rose
5.89%, All Share Index (comprising
wider constituents) by 5.65% and Al
Rayan Islamic Index by 8.76% during
the week that featured International
Monetary Fund paper say that oil
export losses in 2015 are expected to
reach $300bn or 21 percentage points
of gross domestic product (GDP) in the
Gulf, leading to fiscal deficit.
Of the 43 stocks, 36 gained, while
only seven declined. All of the nine
industrials; eight off the 12 banks and
financial services; seven of the eight
consumer goods; four each of the five
insurers and the four realty; all of the
three transport and one of the two
telecom stocks closed higher during
the week.
About 84% of the stocks were in
the positive terrain with major
gainers being Ezdan, Barwa, United
Development Company, Mazaya Qatar,
Aamal Company, Gulf International
Services, Mesaieed Petrochemical
Holding, Industries Qatar, Masraf Al
Rayan, Qatar Islamic Bank, Commercial
Bank, International Islamic, Dlala, Qatari
Investors Group, Gulf Warehousing,
Milaha, Nakilat and Vodafone Qatar;
while QNB and Ooredoo notably
bucked the trend during the week.
Market capitalisation expanded 4.2% or
more than QR27bn to QR676.06bn.
Foreign institutions’ net buying
soared to QR144.35mn compared to
QR85.09mn the previous week.
Domestic institutions’ net profit
booking sunk to QR43.9mn against
QR97.65mn the week ended January
Local retail investors turned net sellers
to the tune of QR30.56mn compared
with net buyers of QR22.08mn the
previous week.
Non-Qatari retail investors’ net
selling surged to QR69.89mn against
QR9.32mn the week ended January 29.
A total of 91.69mn shares valued at
QR3.51bn changed hands across 40,426
The real estate sector saw a total of
37.11mn equities worth QR938.7mn
change hands across 10,976 deals.
The banks and financial sector
witnessed as many as 19.12mn stocks
Strong US job, wage
gains open door to
mid-year rate hike
S job growth rose solidly in January and wages rebounded, a show
of economic strength that put a
mid-year interest rate increase from the
Federal Reserve back on the table.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 257,000
last month, the Labor Department said
yesterday, outstripping Wall Street forecasts.
At the same time, data for November and December was revised to show
a whopping 147,000 more jobs created
than previously reported, bolstering
views consumers will have enough muscle to carry the economy through rough
global seas.
“By any measure this was an extremely
good report,” said Tom Porcelli, chief US
economist at RBC Capital Markets in
New York.
At 423,000, November’s gain was the
largest for any month since May 2010,
when employment was boosted by government hiring for a national census.
Over the past three months, more than
onemn jobs have been created, the first
time that milestone has been reached
since late 1997.
The unemployment rate rose onetenth of a percentage point to 5.7%, but
that was because Americans poured into
the labour force to hunt for work in a
show of increased confidence.
US stocks edged modestly higher at the
open, as investors weighed the brightening economic signs against the prospect
of higher interest rates.
The dollar rose and prices for US
Treasury debt fell as investors brought
forward bets on a rate hike. Rate futures
shifted to show traders now expect a rate
increase in September. Before the report,
they were pointing to October.
“The strong across-the-board employment report confirms the American
economy’s ability to create jobs, draw
more people into the labour market
and, finally, improve prospects for wage
growth,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief
economic adviser at Allianz in Newport
Beach, California.
January marked the 11th straight
month of job gains above 200,000, the
longest streak since 1994.
Sputtering growth overseas and lower
oil prices have weighed on US exports
and business investment, but the jobs
report suggested the economy continued to be a bright spot in an otherwise
gloomy world.
Wages increased 12 cents last month
after falling five cents in December. That
took the year-on-year gain to 2.2%, the
fastest since August, but still below
where Fed officials would like to see it.
The US central bank, which has held
benchmark borrowing costs near zero
since December 2008, ramped up its assessment of the labour market last week,
and economists said the jobs data raised
the prospect it would push rates higher
this summer. “Employment growth is
clearly on fire and its beginning to put
upward pressure on wage growth,” said
Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at
Capital Economics in Toronto. “The Fed
can’t wait much longer in that environment.”
The pick-up in wages is likely to combine with lower oil prices to provide a
massive tailwind for consumer spending and keep the economy growing at a
healthy clip.
In addition to the firmer wages and job
growth, the labour force participation
rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking
for a job, rose two-tenths of a percentage
point to 62.9%.
The employment-to-population ratio
rose to 59.3% from 59.2% in December.
But a broad measure of joblessness
that includes people who want to work
but have given up searching and those
working part-time because they cannot
find full-time employment rose to 11.3%
from 11.2% in December.
In January, private payrolls increased
by 267,000, while November and December private employment was revised higher. Private payroll gains in
November were the largest since September 1997.
The manufacturing sector added
22,000 jobs last month, while construction payrolls increased 39,000. Oil and
gas extraction employment, however, fell
1,900 last month, reflecting layoffs connected to lower oil prices.
Retail employment increased 45,900
after braking sharply in December.
Government payrolls fell 10,000, while
transportation employment dropped
8,600, the first decline since last February.
Temporary help slipped 4,100, the first
drop in a year.
The average workweek was steady at
34.6 hours.
valued at QR1.01bn change hands
across 11,226 transactions.
The telecom sector saw 16.05mn
equities worth QR327mn trade
in 4,861 deals and as many as
11.81mn industrials stocks valued
at QR843.97mn trade across 8,453
The market saw a total of 3.57mn
consumer goods stocks worth
QR158.04mn change hands across 2,317
The transport segment recorded
2.18mn shares valued at QR110.43mn
trade in 1,026 transactions.
The insurance saw a total of 1.85mn
equities worth QR120.18mn trade across
1,567 deals.
In the debt market, a total of 20,000
treasury bills valued at QR199.24mn
change hands across two transactions;
while there was no trading of
government bonds during the week.
Eurozone gives
Greece five days
to come up
with debt plan
reece’s eurozone partners yesterday gave the
new Athens government
five days to come up with a plan
to renegotiate its foreign loans,
after a week of intense EU meetings failed to secure a breakthrough.
Ministers from the 19 nations
that use the single currency will
hold an extraordinary meeting
Wednesday in Brussels to discuss
the stand-off between Greece’s
anti-austerity government and
its international creditors.
“Before then, we expect the
Greek government will make a
proposal on how things should
move forward,” German foreign
ministry spokesman Martin
Jaeger told reporters in Berlin.
The EU portion of Greece’s
€240bn ($275bn) EU-IMF bailout is due to expire February 28,
leaving just weeks for Athens and
Brussels to reach a compromise
or risk a default that could send
Greece crashing out of the euro.
No major decision is expected
at the Eurogroup meeting but
it might ease the pressure on
a summit of European Union
leaders the following day, where
Greece is likely to feature heavily, a European source said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras and Finance Minister
Yanis Varoufakis visited Paris,
London, Rome, Frankfurt, Brussels and Berlin this week to try to
win over EU leaders to their plan
to ease the crushing burden of
Greece’s debts.
The tour began well but ended
with a meeting between Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who
restated his country’s opposition
to debt relief and expressed deep
scepticism over Athens’ plans.
“We even didn’t agree to disagree,” a downbeat Varoufakis
told reporters after the talks
Thursday. Italian Finance Min-
ister Pier Carlo Padoan stressed
yesterday that the goal next
week was not to set up a confrontation with Greece but to
“look for shared solutions”.
“We need to find a solution
that puts Greece back on a path
to sustainable economic growth
and is compatible with its financial commitments,” he said.
A Greek government source
said the Eurogroup meeting was
no surprise and was a “welcome”
chance to discuss its plans.
Spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Vima Radio that it was
in no sense an ultimatum, adding: “The sooner a solution is
found, the better for the government and for the EU.”
Addressing the first meeting
of his Syriza party lawmakers in
parliament Thursday, Tsipras insisted his government would keep
its campaign promises to end austerity. “We are a sovereign country, we have democracy, we have a
contract with our people, we will
honour this agreement,” he said.
In a remarkable show of support for the government, thousands of people gathered outside
parliament that evening, standing silently in Syntagma Square.
“We have nothing to lose,”
said Stavroula Drakopoulou, a
55-year-old teacher who joined
the crowd on a square that has in
previous years been the scene of
violent protests.
In a sign of the pressure Athens is under to reconcile its campaign promises and its financial
commitments, the government
put back the date of the unveiling of its legislative agenda from
today to tomorrow evening.
spooked the markets in its first
week in office by halting key
privatisation projects and announcing it would no longer cooperate with the hated “troika”
of auditors from the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund who
are charged with enforcing the
terms of Greece’s bailout.
Scandal-hit Petrobras shares plunge on CEO news
Rio de Janeiro
hares in Brazilian oil giant Petrobras plunged yesterday on reports that banking executive Aldemir Bendine, who is seen as close to
President Dilma Rousseff ’s party, will
be the scandal-hit firm’s new chief executive.
Petrobras, the largest company in
the world’s seventh-largest economy,
has been thrown into crisis by allegations that executives colluded with
construction firms to steal $4bn from
its coffers, with some of the cash being
paid out in bribes to politicians—including members of Rousseff ’s coalition.
Neither the company nor the government confirmed that Bendine, the
chief executive of state-controlled
Banco do Brasil, had been named to
head Petrobras.
The name of the new CEO will only
be officially announced after markets
close around 5:30 pm (1930 GMT),
Brazilian media said.
But Petrobras shares fell nearly 8%
on the Sao Paulo stock exchange after
the reports, as investors registered disappointment that the post would apparently not go to an apolitical, technical expert.
The stock later recovered some
ground and was down about 4.5% in
midday trade.
Bendine, 51, has said he is not affiliated with any political party, but he is
seen as close to Rousseff ’s Workers’
Party (PT) and her predecessor and
mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He has spent 32 years at Banco do
Brasil, the largest bank in Latin America, where he was named chief executive in 2009.
“Bendine is a career Banco do Brasil
professional, a trusted ally of ex-president Lula. So his appointment main-
The headquarters of Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro. Petrobras shares plunged
yesterday on reports that banking executive Aldemir Bendine, who is seen as
close to President Dilma Rousseff ’s party, will be the firm’s new chief executive.
tains the political connection with the
PT, which the market didn’t like,” said
economist Eduardo Velho of consultancy INVX Global.
“The market was hoping for someone with more ties to the private sector,” he told AFP. Ex-CEO Graca Foster
resigned Wednesday over the scandal
along with her entire board of directors. She had weathered the kickback
allegations for nearly a year with Rousseff ’s backing, but her position grew
increasingly untenable as Petrobras
repeatedly delayed the release of its
third-quarter results.
They were finally published last
week, but without undergoing an external audit or stating the company’s
losses due to corruption.
That kicked off a devastating week in
which the company was downgraded
by two ratings agencies and lost nearly
$9bn in stock value.
The state-controlled firm’s new
chief executive will have to “isolate
himself from the political crisis” and
“rescue the company’s credibility with
the markets,” said Edmar Fagundes de
Almeida, an energy economist at Rio
de Janeiro Federal University.
“The market wants to know what
the company’s real situation is, how
much it lost to corruption,” said Lauro
Vilares, technical analyst at brokerage
firm Guide Investimentos.
“And it’s important that it undergo
an external audit to corroborate the
numbers.” Petrobras has also been hit
hard by tumbling oil prices, a separate controversy over its $792mn loss
on the purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas, and an investigation of
the kickbacks scandal by the Securities
and Exchange Commission in the US,
where the company is also listed on the
New York stock exchange.
The scandal has meanwhile spread
dangerously close to Rousseff, who
was sworn in for a second four-year
term on January 1. Rousseff chaired
the Petrobras board from 2003 to 2010,
during much of the time when the illicit activity is said to have been going on.
On Thursday, the treasurer of the
Workers’ Party, Joao Vaccari Neto, was
detained for questioning in the graft
probe before being released after several hours.
RUGBY | Page 10
GOLF | Page 8
NBA | Page 7
France expect
under Cotter
Woods hobbles
out at Torrey
as Thompson
takes charge
Hot Cavaliers
crush clippers
to extend
winning streak
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Rabia II 18, 1436 AH
Clarke’s World
Cup fitness race
turns into a jog
Page 6
warns over
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah negotiates the desert terrain on the first day of the Qatar International Rally yesterday. At bottom, Qatar’s Abdulaziz al-Kuwari in action.
Al-Attiyah’s big lead
punctures rivals’ hopes
‘It’s a nice position to be in at this point with a good lead’
By Sports Reporter
asser Saleh al-Attiyah remained firmly on course for
an unprecedented 12th victory at the QMMF Qatar International Rally after six timed special
stages in the Qatar desert yesterday.
The Qatari and co-driver Matthieu Baumel have teamed up for a full
programme of FIA Middle East Rally
Championship events in a Ford Focus
RRC and lead the 13-stage event by
1min 17.50sec heading into the final
half dozen timed tests today.
“It’s a nice position to be in at this
point with a good lead and six stages
to go,” said al-Attiyah. “But, I suppose
I was a little fortunate this morning. I
was pushing quite hard and managed
to avoid the punctures that affected the
others and cost them time. I do have a
good lead, but one puncture tomorrow
and that can all be lost. I need to manage the race carefully now.”
Punctures wrecked the challenge
from both of his major rivals. Abu
Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid al-Qassimi was forced to stop and change
a wheel on the second of the day’s
specials and the delay cost him 3min
50sec. He reached the end of the leg in
third overall.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed alRajhi and his Ulster co-driver Michael
Orr complained of handling issues on
the first stage, but the Riyadh driver
settled into an impressive pace from
then on to hold third place and he
moved up to second on the last test of
the day.
Abdulaziz al-Kuwari completed
eight kilometres of the second stage
of the day on a flat tyre and lost half a
minute. The Qatari and his Irish navigator Killian Duffy held second at the
midday regroup and looked set to reach
the overnight halt in a similar position
until they reportedly punctured again
on the last stage and dropped nearly
four minutes to the leader and moved
into fourth place.
Kuwait’s Salah bin Eidan and new
Slovenian co-driver Vili Oslaj held
sixth and led the Group N category
from the sole-surviving Iranian crew
of Ali Mesgarha and Vahidreza Vahdatinikzad until the last stage. But they
too hit serious suspension trouble and
the Iranians held the showroom category lead at the overnight halt. Only
five of the 12 starters reached the overnight halt, although the rest should return in Rally2 today.
Al-Attiyah led 11 rivals into the
opening 21.63km of the tricky Umm
Wishah stage in his newly-liveried
2014 Ford Fiesta RRC. He already
knew that al-Rajhi’s strategy was to
attack from the start and the Qatari
laid down the gauntlet with a time
of 10min 31.20sec and gained 21 seconds on the struggling Saudi, as Abdulaziz al-Kuwari pipped al-Qassimi
to second.
Al-Rajhi’s co-driver Michael Orr
had noticed low pressure in a rear
tyre before the start of the special and
the wheel was changed, but Al-Rajhi
clouted a rock early in the special and
IFA president Sepp Blatter yesterday warned Qatar against trying to form
an imported team for the
2022 World Cup they will host and
slammed the foreign team it used at
the world handball championships as
an “absurdity”.
“The nation of 2.2 million faces the
huge challenge of forming a competitive national football team by 2022.
However, this cannot be achieved by
quickly naturalising players,” Blatter said in a commentary for the FIFA
Weekly journal.
He said that football’s world body
does not allow this, unlike the International Handball Federation.
According to Blatter, Qatar’s players, who reached last weekend’s final
at the handball world championships
“contradict the spirit of a national
The Qatar squad included players
born in Bosnia-Hercegovina, France,
Spain, Cuba and Montenegro. Several
have played for other national teams
prior to the tournament, but handball
allows players to play for more than
one country.
“The fact that sport builds social
bridges and brings cultures together
cannot be stressed often enough,”
said the FIFA president, who is campaigning for a new term in May’s
“However, what happened at this
year’s men’s world handball championship in Qatar stretched this notion
to the point of absurdity,” he said.
Under FIFA rules, a player has to
have been born in the country he represents or his parents have to have
been were born there. Otherwise, the
player must have spent at least five
years living there to qualify to play for
the country.
Karabatic in
the dock for
complained that the car was pulling to
the right. All 12 cars reached the stage
Al-Attiyah was now in a focused
mood and a stunning time through the
first Al-Shabana special saw his lead
over al-Kuwari climb to 40.2sec when
his rival sustained a rear, right flat tyre
and was forced to drive for 8km on the
deflating rubber.
The stage was also a critical one
for al-Qassimi: he eventually finished
3min 43sec behind the leader and
wrecked his chance of a maiden Qatar
win. “After about two or three kilometres, in a tight right-hand corner, a
rock had been pulled out into the track
and we clipped it. I carried on a little,
but we knew there was a problem and
decided to change the front wheel. But
there was also some damage under the
car and we had to jack it up from the
back. This cost us even more time.”
A heavy landing after a jump sidelined Edith Weiss’s Mitsubishi with
suspension damage and Rashid alNaimi was also in trouble. After sustaining a puncture, his Mitsubishi took
off over a huge jump and the resultant
impact broke a turbo pipe and damaged the front of the car. He managed
to finish the stage before retiring and
returning to the service park. “Hopefully SuperRally (Rally2) for us,” said
the dejected Qatari.
Al-Attiyah increased his lead over
al-Kuwari to 50.20sec through AlKharsaah 1 and reached service with-
out issues. A slow puncture had slightly delayed Khalifa al-Attiyah, Abdullah
al-Kuwari complained of power steering problems and the Iranian driver
Mohammed Ghalehbani was sidelined
in the special with technical trouble.
Today, crews tackle the remaining
six special stages of the MERC opener,
starting with 20.90km near Mekanes at
08.38hrs. Runs through the 15.33km of
Salwa at 09.11hrs and a QMMF-backed
27.56km special at 09.49hrs precede a
regroup and service stop at the Qatar
Aqua Park.
The three specials are repeated at
11.52hrs, 12.25hrs and 13.03hrs. After a
final service at the Aqua Park, cars then
return to the QMMF on the Salwa Road
in Doha for the ceremonial finish and
prize giving from 14.30hrs onwards.
2015 QMMF Qatar
International Rally – positions after
SS7 (SS1 cancelled):
1. Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC
1hr 03min 08.9sec
2. Yazeed al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr
(GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 04min
3. Khalid al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC 1hr 07min
4. Abdulaziz al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian
Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 08min
5. Ali Mesgarha (IRN)/Vahidreza Vahdatinikzad (IRN) Subaru Impreza 1hr
28min 45.7sec
rance’s newly-crowned world
handball champion Nikola
Karabatic is due to stand
trial on charges of matchfixing, the state prosecutor’s office in
Montpellier declared yesterday.
Karabtic, who led France to their
fifth world title in Doha on Sunday, is
one of 17 accused of rigging a French
first division game in May, 2012.
His then club, Montpellier, lost
the game against Cesson 31-28, with
alarm bells ringing because of the
scale of bets totalling 80,000 euros
The bulk of the money were on
Cesson leading at half-time, which
they did 15-12, against a Montpellier
side already assured of the title.
Two other members of Sunday’s winning France team in Doha,
Samuel Honrubia, and Karabatic’s
brother Luka, are also among those
“They are dealing with this situation very badly,” the Karabatic
brothers’ lawyer Jean-Robert Phung
told I-Tele, a French news television
“They want to get it over with as
quickly as possible. We knew the legal
authorities had no other choice but to
send the affair to trial,” he added.
Neither the Karabatic brothers nor
Honrubia played in the match under
the spotlight.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
10-man Lekhwiya hold out
for a win against Gharafa,
Salal thump Shamal 5-0
This victory gives Lekhwiya a two-point lead at the top of the QSL table over Al Sadd while Salal are now in fifth spot
Action from the QSL match between Lekhwiya and Al Gharafa which was held yesterday at the Thani bin Jassim stadium. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
By Sports Reporter
ekhwiya survived a late fight
back from Al Gharafa and a red
card to their striker Sebastian
Soria to win their Qatar Stars
League encounter 3-2 at the Thani bin
Jassim stadium yesterday.
Lekhwiya had many players away
on international duty during the midseason break and head coach Michael
Laudrup remarked that it was only on
the eve of the match that the entire
squad had reunited and trained together.
But it was Laudrup’s boys who dominated the match right from the start.
Soria opened the scoring for the team
early in the 15th minute and then doubled his team’s advantage in the 35th
Lekhwiya looked comfortable go-
ing into the break with a 2-0 scoreline.
And further established their dominance when striker Ismail Mohamad
scored in the 50th minute to give his
team a 3-0 lead.
But then Gharafa clawed one back in
the 61st minute through Mustafa Abdulla. And that’s when the fight back
began. Gharafa were steadily building
in confidence and were mounting constant attacks. Lekhwiya players were
getting rattled by it and the frustration
surfaced when Soria got a red card in
the 76th minute.
But despite that surge in momentum and having the advantage of an
extra man, Gharafa could only find one
more goal late into injury time when
Lekhwiya’s Ahmed Aziz scored an own
goal in the 91st minute. That made the
score 3-2. The Red Knights however
overcame the late scare as they held on
for the win.
Lekhwiya will be happy that with
Al Gharafa 2-3 Lekhwiya
Umm-Salal 5-0 Al Shamal
Al Arabi 0-2 El Jaish
Al Kharaitiyat 4-0 Al Shahaniya
this win since they have created a gap
of two points between them and Al
Sadd, who could only manage a draw
in their match against Al Wakrah yesterday (2-2).
In the other match, Umm Salal produced a strong performance for a
thumping 5-0 victory over Al Shamal
in their Qatar Stars League encounter
held yesterday at the Suhaim bin Hamad stadium.
Salal players ensured that they took
control of the match early on itself. In
the 23rd minute Tuncay Sanli found the
breakthrough to give his team the lead.
Pejman Mohammadreza then doubled
Salal’s lead in the 35th minute and with
each passing minute, it looked like
Shamal players couldn’t muster any
sort of response to the superior offence
of their opponents.
The second half saw the script being
repeated and Shamal defence remained
as porous as before. Salal’s Ismail
Mahmoud took advantage of the shaky
defence and scored twice in the second
half – in the 53rd and then in the 66th
Salal’s Jeremie Aliadiere, who came
on as a substitute in the 69th minute,
wrapped up the humiliation for Shamal
by scoring in the 87th minute. Salal had
55 per cent of possession but mainly
such was their dominance that they
had managed to deny Shamal even a
single shot on target.
Salal are one of the teams who are
looking to finish in the top 4 and they
have had a decent run of results under
Umm Salal players celebrate a goal during their match against Shamal.
PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheed
Umm Salal coach
Bulent Ugyun
coach Bulent Uygun. Shamal, on the
other hand, have failed to win a single
match so far. And have even brought
in new coach Dragan Cvetkovi , having sacked Silvio Diliberto who had
helped the team gain promotion into
the QSL this season. But as is clear
from this match, Shamal needs a lot
of work to be done if they are to sur-
New Shamal
coach Dragan
vive relegation this season.
Salal will be happy with their performance which sees them in fifth
place in the table currently. They are
just one point behind Qatar SC in the
rankings and will be hoping that they
can put in a string of good results in
this second half of the season and produce a top 4 finish.
Aspire Academy hit Kobe for six, PSG beat Atletico
By Sports Reporter
spire Academy romped an
emphatic victory on Friday
evening, hitting Vissel Kobe
for six and delivering a resounding statement of intent in the
Having suffered a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal the day before, Vissel went into the
game knowing they must earn at least a
point in order to keep their Cup dreams
Yet it was Aspire Academy who
emerged the hungrier of the two sides.
With a capacity crowd in the stands to
cheer on the Doha-born players, Aspire
made the most of their home advantage
and completely overwhelmed Vissel
with their pace and energy up front.
Asserting themselves from the getgo, Aspire bagged their first goal after
just four minutes after a crunching
tackle felled striker Hazem Shehata on
the edge of the Kobe box.
Aspire’s Khaled Mazeed stepped up
to float the resultant free kick the ball
Action from the match between Aspire Academy and Kobe yesterday.
into the Kobe box. Khalid al-Naimi
snuck away from the pack to meet
the cross at the near post and fire past
keeper Kaito Tsurata.
On 27 minutes the home side doubled their advantage thanks to some
individual magic from Khalid Mazeed,
who demonstrated incredible confidence to take on four Kobe defenders,
break into the box and fire at goal from
a tight angle.
Tsuruta could only divert Mazeed’s
ambitious effort into the path of Meshaal Faraj, who slotted home with
With the game rapidly slipping away
from Vissel, Aspire confounded the
Japanese side’s misery by recording
their third goal just before half-time.
Newly introduced striker Hassan
Palang used his pace to beat Kobe defenders Haruka Motoyama and Tomoyuki Maekawa before finishing
confidently, ending Kobe’s chances of
progression with 45 minutes still to
Despite recording 68% possession,
Vissel had managed just a single shot
on target, while Aspire had converted
PSG 3-1 Atletico Madrid
Vissel Kobe 1-6 Aspire Academy
Real Madrid 4-1 Schalke 04
Arsenal 3-2 Vissel Kobe
Schalke 04 0-2 Aspire Intl
AC Milan 4-3 River Plate
all three of their efforts on goal.
Perhaps it was this perceived injustice that kept the Japanese fighting and,
as the second-half got underway, Kobe
briefly looked like a different team.
Urged forward by Head Coach Saturo
Hoda, the Japanese side adopted a more
attacking formation that was rewarded
in the 58th minute when captain Tatsuiki Noda combined with Kenta Nohura on the edge of the Aspire box before finishing with a powerful drilled
However, any idea of a fightback was
short-lived as, soon after the restart,
Aspire grabbed their fourth of the game
through another set-piece. Stepping
up this time to take the free-kick was
Hazem Shehata, who saw his effort deflect off the wall and into the top left
Just a minute later and the Kobe
keeper was picking the ball out of the
net yet again after Amro Ali Surag
caught Yuma Tanigawa in possession.
Charging down the middle, Surag broke
into the box before unleashing a powerful shot that brought his side’s tally to
With the game now well beyond
Kobe, the Japanese side’s humiliation
deepened on 86 minutes when Aspire’s
Hazem Shehata picked up the ball on
the left flank. Cutting inside, he beat
three Kobe defenders before unleashing
a powerful drilled effort into the bottom right corner.
With the game finishing 6-1, Vissel
Kobe are now unable to progress from
the group stages. They will however
get the chance to fight for some pride
on Monday when the 3rd placed teams
from each group compete for 8th place.
Aspire Qatar, meanwhile, may just
dare to dream after this impressive win.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Sevilla ’keeper Beto out for
up to three months
Bayern to appeal Boateng’s
three-match ban
Real Madrid’s Ramos ruled
out for five weeks
Union Berlin extend contract
of cancer-stricken player
Van Gaal to contest FA charge
for Cambridge comments
Sevilla have been dealt a major blow after
goalkeeper Beto was ruled out for up to three
months with a shoulder injury, the club announced yesterday. The Portuguese international, 32, who has won 10 caps for his country,
collided heavily with Real Madrid’s French striker
Karim Benzema during their 2-1 midweek defeat.
“It was diagnosed that FC Sevilla goalkeeper
Beto is suffering from a dislocated shoulder and
the situation probably requires surgery which
will mean an minimum absence of ten weeks.”
read a club statement.
The player, who needed lengthy treatment, was
eventually taken off on a stretcher while Benzema
escaped without a yellow card for the incident.
Bayern Munich yesterday lodged an appeal
against defender Jerome Boateng’s three-match
ban, the German Football Federation (DFB) said.
The Germany international was sent off early in
Bayern’s 1-1 draw with Schalke 04 on Tuesday
after bringing down Sidney Sam.
“The red card and the penalty were questionable. But a three-match ban, that’s simply too
harsh,” complained manager Pep Guardiola
yesterday, arguing there was no “aggression
involved” in his player’s late challenge.
The hearing will be held on Monday at the DFB
headquarters in Frankfurt.
If the ban is upheld, Boateng will miss matches
against Stuttgart, Hamburg SV and Paderborn.
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos will be out
of action for five weeks, coach Carlo Ancelotti
confirmed yesterday. Spain international Ramos,
28, suffered a torn hamstring in Wednesday’s 2-1
La Liga win over Sevilla and limped off after just
nine minutes before being replaced by Nacho.
“Sergio’s injury is a serious one. He’ll be out for
five weeks,” Ancelotti explained.
Ramos, who had already been ruled out of Saturday’s derby against Atletico, could also miss both
legs of Champions League round of 16 against
Schalke, on 18th February and 10th March.
The centre-back’s absence is a major blow for
Real, who already had to do without James Rodriguez (foot), Pepe (rib) or Luka Modric (thigh).
In a show of support, second division club
Union Berlin have extended the contract of veteran Benjamin Koehler by a year after he was
diagnosed with cancer, it said yesterday.
The Berlin club, known for its independent spirit
and fan loyalty, said the contract of the 34-yearold midfielder, running out at the end of the
season, had been extended by a year to 2016
after he was informed of the diagnosis.
The former Germany youth international was
diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his belly
earlier this week.
“Benny is and remains an important part of our
team,” said coach Norbert Duewel in a statement. “His illness came as a shock for all of us.”
Manchester United manager Louis van
Gaal will contest his Football Association
charge for comments he made about the
referee following the FA Cup match at
Cambridge United.
United were held to a 0-0 draw by the
fourth-tier side before winning the
fourth-round replay 3-0 at Old Trafford on
“In 30 years as a trainer-coach I have never
been charged. I do not think I said something wrong. I said in the press conference before the game that everything is
in favour of the underdog,” Van Gaal told
reporters yesterday.
Juve host
Milan as
Napoli pile
on Roma
Top-four contenders
face derby ordeals
‘It is one of the biggest games for both sets of fans and this year it is going to be tight’
host ailing AC Milan
looking to extend their
seven-point lead over
title-chasers Roma, and the Giallorossi’s woes could deepen
with Gonzalo Higuain-inspired
Napoli now targeting second
Juventus spurned the chance
to extend their Serie A lead to
nine points last week following
an unexpected scoreless draw
away to Udinese.
But with Roma conceding a
fourth draw on the trot, Massimiliano Allegri’s league leaders look to be cruising towards a
fourth consecutive league title.
“Winning four titles in succession is not an easy feat, especially in such a tactical and physical league,” striker Carlos Tevez,
who celebrated his 31st birthday
on Thursday, told Jtv.
“Winning a fourth consecutive championship would see us
make even more history.”
Nevertheless, Italy’s top flight
produced several shock results
last weekend and Roma, dumped
out of the Italian Cup after a 2-0
home defeat to Fiorentina, have
yet to throw in the towel.
Napoli were the only top five
team to claim all three points,
thanks to a 2-1 win away to Chievo when new signing Manolo
Gabbiadini hit a 62nd minute
It was a huge win for Rafael Benitez’s men, and its significance
did not escape the attention of
Roma either. Napoli, who sit 11
points adrift of Juventus, are now
only four behind second-placed
If the injury-hit Giallorossi
lose away to Cagliari and Napoli
beat Udinese at home, the gap
will be reduced to just a point.
Roma striker Gervinho, along
with new signing Seydou Doumbia, is still at the Africa Cup of
Nations having scored once in
a 3-1 win over DR Congo which
qualified the Ivory Coast for
Sunday’s final.
Kevin Strootman (knee) is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines and fellow midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Juan Iturbe are
also out with injury knocks.
Even forward Victor Ibarbo,
who arrived on a six-month
loan deal last week from
Cagliari, has been sidelined
after making a late substitute’s
appearance in Roma’s Cup defeat on Tuesday.
The pressure is growing on
Garcia and the Frenchman admitted: “We need a result at
Cagliari to get luck back on our
A Roma slip-up would be
welcomed by a Napoli side
that has lost only twice in 18
games ahead of hosting Udinese at the San Paolo, which is
still ringing from the sound of
Wednesday’s 1-0 Italian Cup
win over Inter.
(all times GMT)
Today’s matches
Verona v Torino (1700), Juventus v
AC Milan (1945)
Tomorrow’s matches
Fiorentina v Atalanta (1130),
Cagliari v Roma, Empoli v Cesena,
Napoli v Udinese, Parma v Chievo,
Sampdoria v Sassuolo (all 1400),
Inter v Palermo
he battle for Champions
in the Premier League
takes on new intensity
this weekend with two highstakes derby clashes involving
teams pursuing a top-four finish.
Arsenal, who trail fourthplace Southampton on goal difference alone, tackle north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur
in a contest between two sides
who have found form in recent
Liverpool, meanwhile, visit
Everton, having climbed to
within four points of the Champions League places with a haul
of 16 points from a possible 18
- a run matched only by Lyon in
Europe’s five major leagues.
The weekend’s action begins
at White Hart Lane on Saturday, where Tottenham will go
in search of only a second win
over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in
eight encounters.
Both teams are in good shape,
with Tottenham having lost
only once in their last nine
league games and Arsenal only
once in their last eight.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs,
two points behind their local
rivals in sixth place, have been
given reason for optimism by
the news that Arsenal top scorer
Alexis Sanchez will miss the
game with a hamstring injury.
But Arsenal scarcely missed
the Chilean last weekend,
crushing Aston Villa 5-0 at the
Emirates Stadium to record a
third consecutive league win for
the first time this season.
“This is a massive game and it
is all about the bragging rights,”
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott, a scorer against Villa, told
the London Evening Standard
“It is one of the biggest games
for both sets of fans and this
year it is going to be tight.”
Liverpool’s trip to Goodison
Park later on Saturday will be
Steven Gerrard’s last Merseyside derby before he leaves Anfield for the Los Angeles Galaxy
at the end of the campaign.
The Liverpool captain, 34,
made his 700th appearance for
Liverpool’s English midfielder Steven Gerrard (centre) in action during the FA Cup fourth round replay football match between Bolton and Liverpool at the Reebok Stadium in
Bolton, on Wednesday.
the club in Wednesday’s 2-1 FA
Cup win at Bolton Wanderers
and manager Brendan Rodgers
has backed him to sign off in
style against old foes Everton.
“He’ll want to win, like he
does every time,” Rodgers told
a press conference on Thursday.
“How will he deal with the
emotion of it being his last? Like
he has all the others—by being
focused on the team getting a
Koeman’s ‘easy job’
Everton, 12 points below
seventh-place Liverpool in 12th
place, will draw little encouragement from the news that
Daniel Sturridge is in line to face
The England striker made a
scoring return from injury in
Liverpool’s 2-0 win over West
Ham United last weekend and
scored three times in the derby
last season, including an 89thminute equaliser in a 3-3 draw
at Goodison.
Manchester United, a point
above Southampton in third
place, visit West Ham United,
whose own challenge for European qualification has run into
trouble after a return of one win
from six matches.
United’s form dipped around
the turn of the year as they
won only once in five league
games, but successive wins over
Leicester City and Cambridge
Wenger warns Wilshere to ‘master his life’
LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
told Jack Wilshere he must “master his life”
after confirming the Gunners midfielder had
apologised for being photographed holding a
shisha pipe at a nightclub.
Wilshere, 23, who is nearing a return to firstteam action following ankle surgery, generated unwelcome headlines after pictures were
posted on social media following a night out in
London. It was not the first time Wilshere has
found himself in an unflattering photograph
after he was pictured smoking in Las Vegas
last year with England goalkeeper Joe Hart
after the World Cup.
Wenger, speaking Friday ahead of Arsenal’s
north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, said Wilshere had apologised and that the player had been reminded
of his responsibilities.
“I have spoken with him about that (smoking) and
he is not a smoker,” Wenger said. He is of course
sorry for what has happened. “It is down to him
to master his life. He had the day off the next day
and he went out to watch the Super Bowl.
“When he is here he has to follow the rules
that we dictate here. When he is out of his job,
it is his own responsibility to behave like he
wants to behave.”
The veteran French manager added: “I believe
his photo has been taken at half past 12 when
he watched the Super Bowl. I don’t know any
more of what happened and it’s not of a big
Thursday saw Wilshere post a video of himself in
training as he recovered from ankle surgery along
with the message: “Worry about your character
not your reputation, because your character is
who you are and your reputation is only what
people who don’t know you think about you!”
Wenger added Friday that much of the recent
publicity surrounding Wilshere was unfair to
a player whose career has been blighted by
injury. “You are always worried for your players that they get what they don’t deserve, but
I think I observe him well and he behaves in a
very professional way,” Wenger said.
“Jack has gone through some bad spells in his
career and always recovered.
“It would be wrong to give him that kind of
(bad) reputation because he is a serious player
and he works very hard.
“He is two weeks ahead of schedule in his
(recovery) training, and you don’t do that if
you are not serious.”
United, in the FA Cup, have given Louis van Gaal’s men a spring
in their step.
Southampton’s top-four bid
was hit by a 1-0 loss to Swansea
City last weekend and on Saturday they visit second-bottom
Queens Park Rangers, who are
without a manager following
Harry Redknapp’s resignation.
Redknapp stepped down on
Tuesday, citing the need to undergo knee surgery, with back-room
staff Chris Ramsey and Kevin
Bond placed in charge of the first
team on a temporary basis.
Pochettino claimed this week
that Southampton’s impressive form has been due to the
foundations he put down at St
Mary’s last season before leaving for Tottenham.
In response, Southampton
coach Ronald Koeman quipped:
“Thanks to Mauricio, I’ve got
an easy job. It was the reason I
came here, to have a little holiday.”
Leaders Chelsea and secondplace Manchester City, currently separated by five points, both
face apparently straightforward
Chelsea, who held City to a
1-1 draw last weekend, visit Villa, who have gone eight games
without a win and not scored in
over 10 hours of league football,
while champions City travel to
third-bottom Hull City.
(1500 GMT unless otherwise
Today’s matches
Aston Villa v Chelsea, Everton v
Liverpool (1730 GMT), Leicester
City v Crystal Palace, Manchester
City v Hull City, Queens Park Rangers v Southampton, Swansea City v
Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur v
Arsenal (1245 GMT)
Tomorrow’s matches
Burnley v West Bromwich Albion
(1200 GMT), Newcastle United v
Stoke City (1405 GMT), West Ham
United v Manchester United (1615
‘Zidane could be future Real coach’
inedine Zidane is shaping up as a future coach
of Real Madrid, present
incumbent Carlo Ancelotti said yesterday.
Zidane, who is currently
coaching the Real reserve side
Castilla, “has all the qualities”
required to take the the helm of
the club, Ancelotti told a news
“I enjoy Zidane’s work, he’s
doing very well,” Ancelotti
After a difficult start of the
season, Castilla are top of Spain’s
third tier league.
“He’s doing very well in his
first year in charge. He’s taken
Castilla to first place and he
Zinedine Zidane
needs to keep up the good work.
“It’s pretty clear to me
he has all the qualities to
coach a big team. And that
includes Real Madrid,” said
the Italian manager, who
appointed the French legend
last season.
After seeing Castilla lose five
of their first six initial games,
Zidane has turned things around
and his young charges have now
lost just once in the past four
They could increase their
lead when they take on Athletic Bilbao’s reserves on Sunday, a match which could see
Norwegian teenage prodigy
Martin Odegaard, snapped up
from under the noses of many
European giants in the transfer window, could make his
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
PSG face tough test at Lyon
‘We’ve got a lot of avenues open to us and we want to do well in all the different competitions’
hampions Paris SaintGermain can reclaim
the top spot in Ligue
1 tomorrow, but they
need to beat current leaders
Lyon away from home to do so.
It’s a tough assignment for
Laurent Blanc’s men, but they
were boosted by a 1-0 win over
Lille in midweek that took them
into the French League Cup final.
With the Cup behind them
and the Champions League clash
against Chelsea coming up, the
Ligue 1 giants need to focus on
improving their league ranking.
“It’s not a final but it could be
the turning point of the season”,
admitted Blaise Matuidi.
“We’ve got a lot of avenues
open to us and we want to do
well in all the different competitions.”
With 15 games to go, PSG have
little margin for error. The defending champions have yet to
hit their stride during a mediocre
campaign but maximum points
at Gerland would take PSG ahead
of their rivals in the table.
The Ligue 1 title race has effectively become a three-way
tussle between current leaders
Lyon on 49 points with Marseille
and PSG hot on their heels on 47.
And PSG have no choice
in Lyon, as Thiago Motta explained. “If we lose on Sunday
in Lyon, people will talk about a
crisis at PSG. Our aim is to win
and reclaim the top spot”, said
the Italian midfielder.
The pressure is thus on Laurent Blanc and his men. Bernard Lacombe, special advisor
to Lyon president Jean-Michel
(all times are 1900GMT unless
Today’s matches
Rennes v Marseille (1530) Bastia
v Metz, Caen v Toulouse, Evian
v Bordeaux, Montpellier v Lille,
Reims v Lorient
Tomorrow’s matches
Guingamp v Monaco (1300), Nice v
Nantes (1600), Lyon v Paris SaintGermain (2000)
Lyon’s French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff (left) and midfielder Corentin Tolisso take part in a training session yesterday, at the Tola Vologe training centre in Lyon, central-eastern France, ahead of L1 football match
Olympique Lyonnais (OL) against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) tomorrow.
Aulas, knows that and cunningly
added to their burden.
“PSG will be champions. At
one point, the Parisian players
are going to rebel. Let’s hope it’ll
be as late as possible”, Lacombe
told Radio Scoop.
Lyon, who are surprise leaders at this point in the season,
are on eight-match unbeaten run, having only dropped
points at Monaco.
But, just as they did in the
Principality, Lyon will have to do
without their number one striker Alexandre Lacazette (21 league
Second place Marseille could
also take the reins, should they
manage to win their first away
game since October at Brittany
outfit Rennes, who are winless in
five Ligue 1 outings.
Marcelo Bielsa squad was
boosted with the arrival of Lucas Ocampos from Monaco this
week while their target man
Pierre Andre Gignac is on clinical form in front of goal with a
league tally of 14.
At the bottom of the table,
Metz face a tough battle against
Bastia whose confidence has been
given a massive boost with their
reaching the League Cup final.
Losing League Cup semi-finalists Monaco face Guingamp
and will rely on their defence,
which has let in just one goal in
their last 14 games, to overhaul
Saint-Etienne in fourth spot
while Les Verts take on Lens on
Lens, who are just goal differ-
ence away from the bottom spot,
need points quickly and they
know it.
“We hope to get the better of
Saint-Etienne”, said Lens manager Antoine Kombouare.
“The way we have played lately shows what we are capable of
and it boosts our confidence. We
are aware of the difficulties that
are ahead of us.
Lille came third in Ligue 1 last
season but a goals drought has
seen them fall to a lowly 13th
place with fans calling for the
coach René Girard to resign, and
hanging up a banner to that effect at the club’s training facility.
They travel to sixth placed
Montpellier today seeking not
only in need of goals and points
but a boost in morale.
Grant praises Ghana Ronaldo returns for depleted
Real in Madrid derby
mentality after
testing semi-final
hana coach Avram
Grant has praised his
team’s fortitude following their performance in the African Nations Cup
semi-final against hosts Equatorial Guinea which was disrupted
by fan violence.
Grant’s side won 3-0 to book a
spot in the final where they will
play Herve Renard’s Ivory Coast.
“Before the tournament we
had a good training camp in
Spain,” Grant told reporters yesterday.
“I spoke a lot to the players about mentality. One of the
things that is important in sports
and in life as well, is to recover
after you lost a game.
“We spoke about what would
happen if we win because we
were in a tough group. They
called our group the group of
death, I call it the group of living.”
The game was overshadowed
by a long delay as the home fans
hurled plastic bottles and other
projectiles on to the pitch. Riot
police intervened and a security
helicopter flew over the stadium
to disperse home fans.
“It’s vital to show a strong
mentality,” Grant added. “We
lost the first game, we won the
second in the last minute. The
third game we had to win, we
came back to win 2-1. Every
game we’re playing better foot-
Security and Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials try to
protect Ghana fans after Equatorial Guinea fans threw objects during
their African Nations Cup semi-final soccer match in Malabo on
ball and we’re scoring a lot of
goals. “For two years, I lectured
around the world with people
asking me what to do when you
“This is part of life, you need
to look for a solution to pick
yourselves up. I was looking for
this from players and they did
it well, they picked themselves
up and they showed Ghana that
they could count on them.”
Equatorial Guinea fined for Nations Cup violence
Equatorial Guinea were fined
$100,000 yesterday for the
behaviour of their supporters
during Thursday’s violencestrewn African Nations Cup
semi-final loss to Ghana.
The tournament hosts will, however, be allowed to have spectators for their third place playoff
match against the Democratic
Republic of Congo at the same
venue today.
They were told that as part of
their sanction they must play
their next game behind closed
doors but this part of the punishment has been suspended,
the Confederation of African
Football said in statement
At least 36 people were treated
by the medical teams at the
stadium after the rioting that
interrupted the semi-finals.
“All the injured were supported
and attended to on site. A total
of 14 were transferred to hospital units for further investigations with one case requiring
close monitoring,” CAF added.
orld Player of the
Year Cristiano Ronaldo returns for
a Real Madrid side
otherwise stricken by injuries
and suspensions as they look
to beat Atletico Madrid for the
first time in six meetings this
season today.
two-game ban for kicking out
at Cordoba defender Edimar
as the European champions
sneaked past Sevilla to open up
a four-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table on
However, victory came at a
cost as World Cup star James
Rodriguez broke a bone in his
right foot that will keep him out
for two months, whilst centreback Sergio Ramos will also be
sidelined due to a hamstring
problem in the coming weeks.
Left-back Marcelo misses
out at the Calderon too after his
appeal against his fifth yellow
card of the Liga campaign was
dismissed on Thursday.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti is
short of defensive options with
Pepe also out with a rib injury,
but he insisted he has confidence in the inexperienced
pairing of Raphael Varane and
Nacho in central defence.
“What we lose above all is
experience, but sometimes enthusiasm is a good thing,” said
“The two of them (Varane
and Nacho) give me a lot of
confidence. Ramos and Pepe are
among the best defenders in the
Cristiano Ronaldo
world, but I am not worried.”
Atletico have bounced back
Champions League final defeat
at the hands of Real last season
to beat them in the Spanish Supercup and Copa del Rey over
two legs this season, as well as
winning 2-1 at the Bernabeu in
La Liga earlier in the campaign.
However, defeat this weekend would see them fall 10
points behind the league leaders and all but end their defence
of the title.
“I think it is important because the last games against
Atletico weren’t good, so we
have to change this bad run,”
added Ancelotti.
“It will be a very difficult
game, but we want to do something different.
“The motivation is so big for
this game being a Madrid derby
we don’t need the motivation of
leaving Atletico 10 points behind.”
In contrast to the visitors,
Diego Simeone has a fully-fit
squad to choose from for the
first time since November and
defender Diego Godin insisted
their desire to beat their crosscity rivals hasn’t been diminished by recent success.
“We want to win, we always
want to win and even more so
against Real Madrid,” said the
“It is a different game and
just because we have won the
previous games doesn’t mean
we will win this one. “We need
to prepare well, continue with
what we have been doing and
that will help us get closer to the
result we want.”
Barcelona will be eager to
capitalise should Real slip up
when they travel to face Athletic
Bilbao tomorrow.
The Catalans have been in
scintillating form since their
last visit to the Basque country
ended in defeat to Real Sociedad at the beginning of January, winning eight games in a
row and scoring 29 goals in the
However, they have failed
to win in any of their previous
three trips to Bilbao, including a
1-0 defeat on their first visit to
the new San Mames last season.
Elsewhere, Sevilla, Valencia
and Villarreal continue their
fight for the fourth and final
Champions League place.
Villarreal have the easiest
task on paper when they host
relegation threatened Granada
Sevilla make their second trip
to the capital in five days as they
travel to Getafe, whilst Valencia
are away to Espanyol tomorrow.
Today’s matches
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
(1500), Villarreal v Granada (1700),
Levante v Malaga (1900), Real
Sociedad v Celta Vigo (2100)
Tomorrow’s matches
Cordoba v Almeria (1100), Getafe v
Sevilla (1600), Espanyol v Valencia
(1800), Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Anti-corruption chief
likens match-fixers
to paedophiles
Sir Ronnie Flanagan promises a World Cup free of corruption
dispute with Pakistan
players over their central contracts is not
affecting the team’s
preparations for the World Cup,
the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
said yesterday.
Najam Sethi, head of the
board’s executive committee,
said the dispute had been blown
out of proportion in the media.
“The players are focused on
cricket and the World Cup and
it is wrong to say this central
contracts issue is affecting their
performance or focus,” Sethi told
Sethi admitted the senior
players had reservations but said
talks had been held, adding that
they will be offered 12-month
contracts after the World Cup.
“It is not a big issue as it is being made out to be. It certainly
had no bearing on our performances in New Zealand,” Sethi
Pakistan lost two practice
games and two one-day internationals in New Zealand after the
central contracts dispute erupted
last month.
Pakistan’s preparations for
the World Cup in Australia and
New Zealand have been hit by
By Chris Stocks
ir Ronnie Flanagan has likened
match-fixers to paedophiles while
promising to deliver a World Cup
free of corruption.
The head of the International Cricket
Council’s anti-corruption and security
unit also defended the decision to reduce
the ban of convicted spot-fixer Mohamed
Amir, insisting the bowler’s early return
to domestic cricket in Pakistan does not
send out the wrong message or set a precedent others could take advantage of.
Flanagan, the former chief of the Royal
Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland,
was speaking in Sydney ahead of the start
of the World Cup next weekend.
And while setting out the challenges
the corruption unit faces during the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, he
likened the predatory intentions of those
keen to manipulate players and officials to
those of child abusers.
“In our line of work we too often meet
and know there are rotten people out
there, criminal people who will do all in
their power to corrupt players and others with influence within the game,” said
Flanagan. “They’ll trick them, they’ll coerce them, they’ll try and attract them.
They’re almost like paedophiles in how
they attempt to groom people into ultimately attempting to do what suits their
nefarious intentions in terms of illegal
betting and other elements of criminality.
“We have gone to great lengths to ensure that they don’t get their way and to
ensure that they don’t ever get their way
in this tournament. I would like to assure
you and the paying public that they will
be coming to a tournament where all of
those involved will ensure it will be free
from corruption or threat of corruption.”
Flanagan, 65, also explained his decision to allow Amir to return to cricket
seven months before the scheduled end
of his ban for spot-fixing on September 2.
Amir was suspended from all cricket
for five years and jailed for his part in the
conspiracy alongside Salman Butt, the
former Pakistan captain, and Mohamed
Asif which marred the country’s tour of
England in 2010.
However, the International Cricket
Council announced last week that Amir
can return to domestic cricket in his
homeland with immediate effect before
a possible international comeback later
this year, which could be against England
in the United Arab Emirates this October.
Flanagan cleared Amir’s return after
he interviewed the bowler in Lahore last
month, citing the 22-year-old’s remorse,
willingness to give information to the
ACSU and his part in assisting the unit’s
education programme.
“As the person who exercised his discretion to bring a reduction period into
place I’d better be comfortable with it,”
he said. “Quite recently the ICC board
decided that people in such circumstances where they have fully admitted their
part, where they certainly had shown true
Pakistan contract
dispute not
affecting Cup
preparations: PCB
the loss of two of their best
bowlers, off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and left-arm seamer Junaid
ICC yesterday approved paceman Rahat Ali as a replacement
player for injured Junaid in Pakistan’s squad for the World Cup,
which starts next week.
The 26-year-old Ali played
his only one-day international
against Sri Lanka in June 2012,
and was a surprise replacement
for Junaid, announced by the
PCB on Thursday.
ICC said its technical committee for the World Cup approved
Pakistan’s request to replace Junaid with Ali.
“Any injury or illness-based
replacement requires a written
submission to the Event Technical Committee along with a diagnosis from a medical practitioner
as to the extent of the injury or
illness,” said the ICC.
Once replaced, a player may
not return to the squad save as an
approved subsequent replacement for another injured or ill
player, the ICC said.
Junaid failed to recover from a
leg injury sustained last month.
Pakistan will play their opening match against India at the
Adelaide Oval on February 15.
ICC’s anti-corruption chief Ronnie Flanagan speaks at a press conference in Sydney yesterday. At the press conference, Flanagan
also explained his decision to allow Pakistan’s Mohamed Amir (below) to return to cricket earlier than his ban ends.
remorse, where they had acted to help
us in all our anti-corruption efforts and
where the home federation and the ICC
gave their prior approval, I as chairman
of the anti-corruption unit then had the
ability to exercise discretion.
“So I looked at all these things very
carefully and interviewed Amir several
times and I’m certainly very satisfied that
he met all those sorts of conditions.”
Asked what he would say to those who
interpreted the leniency shown to Amir
as a sign of the ICC going soft on corruption, Flanagan said: “Some people have
said to me if you have zero tolerance how
can this come about? An analogy I draw
is one from criminal law. That deals with
assaults which range right from a common assault right through to causing actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm,
manslaughter or murder. I think you can
have absolute zero tolerance of all of that
behaviour but it doesn’t mean that the
same punishments should apply to each
“So the consideration that I gave in relation to Amir, and it’s my discretion so I
stand by it and take responsibility for it,
was after a very rigorous examination of
the entire case, very thorough consideration of his personal reaction – did he
plead guilty? Did he admit his guilt? Was
he truly remorseful for all that he’d done?
I was determined in coming to my conclusion not to set any precedent that others may somehow take advantage of.
“The timeliness of that admission of
guilt and the showing of that genuine remorse is important as well so that it can’t be
someone who for some quick relief or benefit retrospectively comes to that decision.
“So I fully respect the views of those
who say that shouldn’t have happened.
Personally I’m content that it was right,
that it should have happened in the very
limited way it has.”
Rahat Ali will
replace Junaid
Khan in Pakistan’s
World Cup squad.
No Tendulkar in Team India gives Pakistan World Cup hope
New Delhi
ndia go into the World Cup without
the reassuring presence of retired batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar for
the first time since 1992, which surely
must bring relief to arch-rivals Pakistan.
Pakistan have lost all their five World
Cup meetings against India and Tendulkar, who featured in all of them, proved
a stumbling block on at least four occasions.
India and Pakistan face each other in a
high-voltage clash at the Adelaide Oval on
February 15 to kickstart their campaigns
in the 2015 edition of cricket’s showpiece
Tendulkar, who retired in 2013 as the
world’s leading run-getter in both Test
and one-day cricket, added colour to the
World Cup, both literally and metaphorically.
Coloured clothing was introduced to
the World Cup when Tendulkar made his
tournament debut in Australia and New
Zealand in 1992 after the first four editions
were played in whites.
Over the next six editions, the prolific
Mumbaikar scored more runs (2,278) and
centuries (six) than any other batsman in
the tournament, ending his World Cup ca-
reer with a creditable average of 56.95.
Tendulkar often spoke of his dream of
winning the World Cup for India, saying he was inspired as a 10-year-old by
the country’s triumph in the 1983 edition
when Kapil Dev’s men stunned favourites
West Indies at Lord’s.
He saw action from close quarters as a
ball boy at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium
when India co-hosted the World Cup with
Pakistan in 1987, two years before he burst
on the world scene as a 16-year-old.
Tendulkar was the tournament’s leading
scorer when India made the semi-finals
in 1996 and the final in 2003 before he
realised his dream when Mahendra Singh
Dhoni’s side won back the title on a memorable night in Mumbai on April 2, 2011.
The 41-year-old, whose six World Cups
is a record matched only by Javed Miandad of Pakistan, has been appointed as
the brand ambassador for the upcoming
tournament by the International Cricket
Tendulkar appeared to reserve his best
at the World Cup for the high-profile
matches against Pakistan, contests that
were followed passionately by millions of
fans on both sides of the border.
In his first tournament in 1992, Tendulkar top-scored with an unbeaten 54 in
India’s 43-run win in Sydney. But Pakistan
survived the morale-sapping defeat to win
the title even as India crashed out in the
first round.
He made 31 in the 1996 quarter-final in
Bangalore which India won by 39 runs and
45 in a second round match at Old Trafford
four years later that helped fashion a 47run victory.
Tendulkar’s spectacular assault on Pakistani tearaway Shoaib Akhtar on way
to a glorious 98 off 75 balls at Centurion
in 2003 is part of World Cup folklore that
enabled India to chase down a challenging
273-7 with six wickets to spare.
“That innings must rank as one of the
best I have played because of the immense
pressure it was played under,” Tendulkar
wrote in his recent autobiography ‘Playing
It My Way’.
“The ground was buzzing hours before
the match. It was sport at its best. This is
why I played cricket, to be out in the middle for my team, on the world’s biggest
cricketing stage, against India’s arch-rival.”
In the 2011 semi-final in Mohali, Tendulkar hit a streaky, but match-winning
85, after being dropped four times by Pakistani fielders and let off twice by the umpires’ review system.
Tendulkar’s knock turned out to be the
top score in the match which India won by
29 runs in front of a sell-out crowd that included the Prime Ministers of both nations.
Sachin Tendulkar (centre), whose six World Cups is a record matched only by Javed Miandad of Pakistan, has been
appointed as the brand ambassador for the upcoming tournament by the International Cricket Council.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Clarke’s World
Cup fitness race
turns into a jog
‘I’m extremely thankful and grateful that I sit in this position now’
arring any further setbacks, it
appears that Michael Clarke’s
return to full fitness and the captaincy of the Australia World Cup
team is now a matter of “when” rather
than “if”.
The 33-year-old batted, bowled and
fielded in an outing for a Cricket Australia
XI in Brisbane on Thursday and looks certain to prove his fitness by the deadline of
the co-hosts’ second pool match against
Bangladesh on February 21.
Giving another in what have become
almost daily updates on his recovery from
a torn hamstring, Clarke yesterday referred questions of whether he would also
be fit for Australia’s tournament opener
on February 14 to the team’s medical staff.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“I have been following (the medical
team’s) guidelines from day one and I’m
extremely thankful and grateful that I sit
in this position now because of their advice and guidance.
“I will 100 per cent be dictated by what
they feel and believe.”
Clarke’s diplomacy was an indication
that there was perhaps an element of
truth in the view that the peremptory Feb.
21 deadline was something of a slap-down
for the Australia skipper.
Rumours of splits between Clarke and
Cricket Australia, selectors and even his
team mates have been widespread in local
media for a couple of weeks.
Clarke is hoping to feature in a practice
match against the United Arab Emirates
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
next Wednesday, which would make him
almost certain to face England in their
World Cup opener at the same ground
three days later.
Doubts over Clarke’s fitness have also
ignited a fever of speculation over who
would replace him as skipper should he
not be available for the tournament.
George Bailey would normally be expected to step up from the vice-captaincy
but many in Australia support the elevation of in-form batsman Steve Smith, who
led the test side to a series victory against
India over the New Year in Clarke’s absence.
Given team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris has said that Clarke’s degenerative
back problem means he could break down
with another hamstring injury at any
time, that discussion could have plenty of
mileage in it yet.
If fully fit, though, there is no doubt that
Clarke’s leadership and batting could have
a major bearing on whether Australia can
win a fifth World Cup title on March 29.
Franklin ends
New Zealand
career with
Middlesex move
ew Zealand all-rounder James Franklin
(pictured) effectively
ended his international
career after it was announced
yesterday the 34-year-old allrounder had signed a two-year
contract with English county
The left-hander is set to play
as a non-overseas player with the
county, subject to clearance from
the England and Wales Cricket
Board, on account of his Irish
Such a classification would
render Franklin ineligible to continue to represent New Zealand,
for whom he has featured in 31
Tests, 110 one-day internationals and 38 Twenty20 matches,
although the last of these appearances was in 2013.
Now the left-hander, a bighitting batsman and mediumpace bowler, intends to remain
with Wellington until the end of
the current New Zealand domestic season in early April before
heading to London.
“Whilst I’m very honoured to
be joining Middlesex for the next
few years, I want to first take my
cap off to Wellington for whom
I’ve had a hugely enjoyable and
memorable career in New Zealand,” said Franklin in a Middlesex statement.
“It’s been an absolute privilege
to play for Wellington for over 15
“And although this decision
closes the chapter on playing
for New Zealand again I know
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to
have spent over a decade being
involved playing international
cricket, and have had some of my
greatest memories and experiences in cricket playing with the
Silver Fern on my cap.
“My family and I will relocate
to London in April and we’re all
very excited about what the future
holds,” added Franklin, who has
previously played county cricket
for Gloucestershire, Essex, Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire.
Michael Clarke batted, bowled and fielded in an outing for a Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane on Thursday.
Ireland lose to
Sydney club in
WCup warm-up
Lee hoping for pace-fest Down Under
ormer Australia paceman
Brett Lee has picked his
country’s bowling attack as
the most balanced for the
World Cup and hopes the pitches
during the tournament will retain
their tradition of being conducive to
fast bowling.
There are concerns that the Australian pitches for the February
14-March 29 tournament might be
better suited to batting after a record
number of runs were scored during
India’s recent four-Test series Down
“The wickets when you play in India should be low and slow turning
wickets. That’s what India is about,”
Lee told reporters during a videoconference from Sydney to mark the
launch of the official World Cup video game by Disney.
“When you are playing in Australia
the wicket should be the traditional
Perth wicket that we always see. Real
bouncy, fast wickets. Sydney should
have some pace.
“Adelaide should be low and slow.
Brisbane should be seaming. The
wickets should be traditional Australian wickets that we are used to
and grew up playing on.”
The 38-year-old Lee, one of the
fastest bowlers of his time, feels Aus-
tralia have the ideal mix of bowlers
to dominate batting sides during the
50-over tournament.
“If they are all firing on one particular day, it’s Australia to me that are
very balanced,” said Lee, who played
76 Tests and 221 ODIs during a 13year international career.
“They’ve got a strong bowling attack. You got (Mitchell) Johnson,
(Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins and
(Josh) Hazlewood just to mention a
England, South Africa, New Zealand and India also had the variety
in bowling to succeed at the tournament, according to the right-arm
The twice World Cup winner will
pass on his experience and knowledge about the local conditions as a
bowling coach for giant-killers Ireland during the event.
“My allegiance is with Australia,
but it wouldn’t be fair of me not to
take the opportunity to try and pass
on some knowledge to younger players coming through,” said Lee, who
agreed a short-term deal to help Ireland during their warm-up period.
“It is my chance to give something
back to cricket.”
Ireland, who defeated Pakistan and
England in the 2007 and 2011 editions of the tournament, have been
paired in Pool B against South Africa,
India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and the United Arab Emirates.
The Irish will hope the return of Kevin O’Brien provides a boost ahead
of their opening Group B match against West Indies on February 16.
With the likes of Mitchell Starc (second from right), Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins in the
team, former paceman Brett Lee feels Australia has a balanced bowling attack in the World Cup.
found the tables turned
on them as they were
well-beaten by a Sydney club side in a World Cup
warm-up match yesterday.
Ireland, who have enjoyed
memorable wins over Pakistan
and England at recent World
Cups, went down to a five-wicket defeat by Randwick Petersham
in a 50-over friendly at Sydney’s
Coogee Oval.
William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, top-scored with 74
in a seemingly competitive total
of 255 for seven.
However, Randwick Petersham won with more than six
overs to spare after opener Alex
Sams made 80 in a total of 256 for
five before home skipper Adam
Semple (33 not out) finished the
Ireland, who were without
several first-choice players, continue their preparations with
official warm-up games against
fellow World Cup competitors
Scotland and Bangladesh on
Tuesday and Thursday.
The Irish will hope the return
of Kevin O’Brien, George Dockrell, Alex Cusack and John Mooney provides a boost ahead of their
opening Group B match against
the West Indies in Nelson, New
Zealand, on February 16.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Hot Cavs crush Clippers,
run winning streak to 12
‘Considering the opponent and considering the fact that we wanted to continue our momentum, this is one of our better games’
Los Angeles
he Cleveland Cavaliers
stayed hot and the LA
Clippers lost their cool.
Kevin Love scored 24
points, while LeBron James added 23 with nine assists Thursday,
and the surging Cavaliers ran
their winning streak to 12 games,
with a 105-94 rout of the visiting
“Considering the opponent
and considering the fact that
we wanted to continue our momentum, this is one of our better
games,” Cavs coach David Blatt
With a victory over Indiana
next, the Cavs’ will match the
franchise-best 13-game run set
in 2010.
J.R. Smith netted 16 points,
Timofey Mozgov had 12 with
nine boards for Cleveland (3120) which moved past idle Chicago atop the Central Division.
Love bounced back from a
season-low five-point outing
Monday against Philadelphia
with a strong showing.
“I got tired of everybody talking about Kevin Love,” Blatt said.
“There’s nothing wrong with
Kevin Love. He is a highly-valued member of this team whether it’s a great day or a less good
day because we all have them.”
Love set the tone with 10 quick
first-quarter points as the Cavs
sprinted to a 30-20 advantage,
that swelled to 65-42 at halftime.
He totalled 16 at the break,
while James had 15 with eight assists and a few ferocious dunks
that entertained the sellout
crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
Dominated the first 24 minutes, the frustrated Clippers let
their emotions get the better of
them. They were hit with five
technical fouls - four in the third
period - including two by Matt
Barnes who was ejected.
Charlotte .............94
Cleveland .........105
Dallas .....................101
Portland ............ 108
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul drives against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday.
LA Clippers ............94
Sacramento ..........78
Phoenix .....................87
Clippers All-Star guard Chris
Paul was critical of first-year
referee Lauren Holtkamp, especially the T’s whistled on himself
and DeAndre Jordan for taunting
following a dunk.
“We have to show better composure but at the same time
some of them were ridiculous,”
he said. “The tech that I got was
“Nobody said anything. We
Orlando Magic fire head
coach Jacque Vaughn
By Josh Robbins and Brian
Orlando Sentinel
he Orlando Magic fired
coach Jacque Vaughn,
ending his two-and-ahalf-year tenure with
the franchise, the team announced Thursday.
“Jacque has been a trusted
friend and colleague,” Magic
GM Rob Hennigan said in a
statement. “We thank him
immensely for his contributions and sacrifices in bringing
our team to this point, and we
greatly appreciate his unwavering commitment to our organization. We have tremendous
respect for Jacque and certainly
wish him the best as he embarks
on the next phase of his career.”
James Borrego, who was
the lead assistant coach under
Vaughn, has been named the
Magic’s interim head coach.
“I would like to thank Mr.
DeVos and Family for the opportunity of representing the
Orlando Magic as head coach,”
Vaughn said in a statement. “I
am a stronger and wiser man
and coach because of the opportunity. I look forward to seeing this group continue to grow.
God bless, good luck.”
Sources told the Sentinel the
team also fired assistant coaches Wes Unseld Jr. and Brett
Jacque Vaughn
Gunning and manager of advanced scouting Zach Guthrie.
Magic officials made the
moves with their team mired
in a 10-game losing streak, including a 110-103 loss Wednesday night to the San Antonio Spurs, the team that gave
Vaughn his start in coaching.
Vaughn compiled a 58-158
record with the Magic. His .269
winning percentage is the second-lowest winning percentage in NBA history for someone
who has coached at least 200
regular-season games, according to the website
The Magic own a 15-37 record
this season — the same record they
held after 52 games last season.
On Twitter, Magic forward
Tobias Harris wrote: “I want to
thank Coach Vaughn for being a
first class individual not only to
myself, but everyone associated
with the Magic.”
This season was supposed
to be the season in which the
young Magic took a step forward after two seasons of positioning the franchise for optimal draft lottery position. But
after a promising start, including markedly improved play on
the road, the Magic’s on-court
performance has deteriorated
in recent weeks.
The franchise hired Vaughn
as its coach on July 28, 2012,
after he spent two seasons as
an assistant coach with the
Before his assistant-coaching stint, Vaughn played 12
seasons in the NBA as a point
guard, including the 2002-03
season with the Magic. Vaughn
developed a reputation as a cerebral, hard-nosed player who
made the most out of his physical talent.
the Magic haven’t followed
Vaughn’s example.
The team has not made the
most of its collective talent.
To be sure, Vaughn faced an
enormously difficult job. He had
one of the youngest teams in the
NBA. He has started a 20-yearold rookie point guard since midDecember and, lately, a 19-yearold rookie also has been inserted
into the starting lineup.
This season, one of the biggest disappointments has been
the team’s play on its home
court. The Magic have amassed
a 5-17 record at Amway Center,
one of the worst home records
in the league. Over the last
month and a half, the Magic
have lost at home to the Utah
Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers
and Milwaukee Bucks.
The Magic have lost 16 of
their last 18 games.
try to get the ball fast downcourt. When we did that she
said uh-uh. I said why uh and
she gave me a tech. If she calls
crashes out
of worlds
American showman Bode
Miller, one of the greatest
and most controversial
skiers of all-time, crashed
out of the alpine ski world
championships on Thursday, tearing his hamstring
tendon after a nasty fall in
the Super-G.
Taking the most direct line
to the finish as always, Miller
clipped a flag with his arm as
he neared the bottom of the
course and flew into the air
before hitting the snow hard.
A statement released by the
US team said Miller had been
released from hospital after
surgery on his torn hamstring tendon from the lower
leg laceration.
“Out of a successful surgery
for a severed hamstring
tendon. Feeling lucky since
things could have been way
worse,” Miller posted on
The injury will keep Miller out
of the world championships
and perhaps raises questions about the future of the
37-year-old’s career.
Competing in his first race
of the season after missing the start of the World
Cup campaign following
back surgery, Miller had
taken a deep breath as he
pushed out of the start
hut onto a sun-kissed
Birds of Prey layout to
loud cheers.
The 37-year-old launched into
one of his patented charges,
leading by more than half
second at the second interval
when disaster struck.
it that way this might not be for
It’s likely the NBA will fine
Paul for his comments.
After the Cavs opened up
a 32-point cushion late in the
quarter, Love and James were
done for the night. Only a 31-11
fourth quarter by the Clippers’
reserves against their counterparts made the final score respectable.
“It’s a lot of fun playing winning basketball,” Love said.
“Hopefully, we’ll continue to
Blake Griffin scored 16 for the
Clippers (33-17), who had won
seven of nine before suffering
just their sixth double-digit loss
of the season.
“We just got our butt kicked,”
said Clippers coach Doc Rivers,
who was also hit with a technical in an attempt to jump start
his club.
“It’s on all of us. We weren’t
prepared from the beginning.”
Elsewhere, Gerald Henderson
scored 27 points and Charlotte’s
defence stiffened in the second
half, allowing just 33 points,
as the Hornets (22-27) sent the
struggling Wizards to their
season-high fifth straight loss.
The Hornets beat the Wizards
Paul Pierce scored 19, John
Wall had 15 with 13 assists for
Washington (31-20), losers of
five straight in the series, including Monday’s 92-88 contest.
Monta Ellis scored 21 points,
Tyson Chandler had 16 with as
many rebounds, and the visiting Mavericks (34-18) - minus
rested German juggernaut Dirk
Nowitzki - handed the struggling Kings their 10th loss in the
last 11 games with a 101-78 verdict.
DeMarcus Cousins collected
23 points and 11 rebounds for
Sacramento (17-31) which never
recovered after falling behind
60-43 at halftime.
z Portland Trail Blazers 108,
Phoenix Suns 87: Frenchman
Nicolas Batum netted 20 points,
LaMarcus Aldridge added 19
with 13 rebounds, and the Blazers (34-16) used a dominating
42-22 fourth quarter to set the
visiting Suns.
Markieff Morris score 18
points, and Eric Bledsoe added
17 for Phoenix (28-23), losers in
five of its last seven contests.
Clutterbuck, Halak
star in shootout as
Islanders top Flyers
By Arthur Staple
ith just under five
minutes to go in
the second period, it may have
looked a bit bleak for the Islanders. They trailed the Flyers
by two goals despite allowing
only 10 shots on goal through
35 minutes, they brought a
three-game losing streak into
the Wells Fargo Center and
they all watched as Johnny
Boychuk, one of their linchpin
defensemen, was helped to the
locker room after blocking a
shot with his left knee.
That does sound bleak,
doesn’t it? But there was no
thought of “what’s next?”
on the visitors’ bench. And
with Boychuk in the locker
room trying to shake off an
immensely painful experience, the Islanders struck
for two goals in a span of
They eventually pulled out
a 3-2 win in the seventh round
of the shootout, thanks to unlikely scorer Cal Clutterbuck.
He tied the score at 18:47 of
the second period with his
fifth goal of the season, then
converted in the shootout
against Steve Mason for a
much-needed win, clinched
when Jaroslav Halak stopped
Sean Couturier in the bottom
of the seventh.
“To be completely honest,
they had maybe three chances
the first two periods. They
were good chances and they
scored twice, but there was a
different feeling on the bench
from the last couple games,”
Clutterbuck said. “If you’re
down 2-0 and you don’t feel
like you’re touching the puck,
that’s one thing. The fact is we
were playing well, and we all
knew it.”
Boychuk returned for the
third period, just as Matt
Martin returned after missing most of the first period
when he had his nose broken
in a fight with Ryan White
2:11 in. The Islanders continued on in the third as they
had in the first two periods,
closing off shooting lanes
and containing the Flyers’
top players. Jake Voracek and
Claude Giroux totaled no
points and two shots on goal
among Philly’s 18.
St. Louis ...................3
NY Islanders ........3
Washington .........2
Florida .......................3
Anaheim .................5
Tampa Bay ...........5
San Jose ..................5
Philadelphia ....... 2
Ottawa .......................1
Los Angeles ....... 2
Nashville ................ 2
Dallas .........................3
Colorado ...............0
Vancouver .............1
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Woods hobbles
out at Torrey as
Thompson leads
Canizares joins
champ Westwood
at top in Malaysia
Woods’ early departure follows his career-worst 82 last week at Phoenix
Kuala Lumpur
Tiger Woods follows through on his drive on the 13th during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. He later
withdrew with a back problem. PICTURE: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
La Jolla
iger Woods limped out of the US
PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines
after 11 holes on Thursday as back
trouble left him well off the pace
set by Nicholas Thompson.
Thompson fired an eight-under par 64
for the clubhouse lead in the fog-disrupted round, which was halted by darkness
with 42 players still on the course.
By the time play was halted, 14-time
major champion Woods was long gone.
The 39-year-old superstar could be
seen grimacing and rubbing his back during the round and was two-over for the
day when he spoke to his playing partners
on the Torrey Pines North Course and
walked gingerly away, eventually being
taken off in a golf cart.
In a brief word with reporters, 39-yearold Woods said his lower back got tight
during one of two fog delays that held up
play for a total of more than two hours on
Thursday morning.
“I just never loosened back up again,” he
said in a brief interview in the parking lot.
“And when we went back out it just got
progressively worse.”
Woods’ early departure follows his
career-worst 82 in the second round last
week at Phoenix, where he missed the cut
by 12 strokes.
Woods, chasing the record 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, said in Arizona
that he was not injured and just needed
more tournament work to try to recover
his lost form.
He was no doubt hoping to get that at
Torrey Pines, where his eight titles in-
clude his most recent major triumph, at
the 2008 US Open.
Instead Woods, who has fallen to 56th
in the world, endured yet another setback.
“It’s frustrating that it started shutting
down like that,” Woods said. “I was ready
to go. I had a good warmup session the
first time around, and I stood out here and
got cold and it started deactivating again.”
Woods said the pain was “different”
from the back pain he dealt with early last
year, when he opted for surgery on March
31 to ease a pinched nerve and missed the
Masters and US Open while recovering.
Overall in six PGA Tour events since he
returned to competition at the PGA Tour’s
National, Woods has missed three cuts—
including at the 2014 PGA Championship,
withdrawn twice and finished 69th at the
British Open.
Thompson, seeking his first PGA Tour
title, is coming off a missed cut in Phoenix.
He had a one-stroke lead over Michael
Thompson, while Brooks Koepka, the
winner in Phoenix, opened with a six-under 66 to share third place with Cameron
It was a further stroke back to England’s
Ian Poulter, Chad Campbell, Sweden’s
Freddie Jacobson, Venezuelan Jhonattan
Vegas, Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge and
Chris Kirk on 67.
Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner
of the tournament, was at one-over par
through 15 holes when play was halted.
Dustin Johnson, who was making his
first tour start since last year’s Canadian
Open was two-over with one to play on
Torrey’s South Course, the more difficult
of two layouts in use over the first two
Sharapova targets Olympics as Russia tackle Poland
leads Russia in their
Fed Cup World Group
opener against Poland this weekend looking to take
a step closer to the 2016 Olympics.
It will be the first meeting between the two countries and a
rare Fed Cup appearance by 2012
Olympic silver medallist Sharapova, who must compete in the
women’s team event if she wants
to bid for gold in Rio next year.
The Russian star, runner-up to
Serena Williams at the Australian
Open last Saturday, has played
just three ties for Russia since her
2008 debut and has a 3-1 singles
Champions the Czech Republic open their defence against
Canada in Quebec City, as 2014
runners-up Germany host Australia in Stuttgart and France
travel to play Italy, last year’s
semi-finalists, in Genoa.
The hardcourt clash today and
tomorrow at Krakow Arena will
see 27-year-old Sharapova re-
turn to Fed Cup for the first time
since February 2012.
Attention will also be focused
on her new team captain Anastasia Myskina, who a decade ago
threatened to pull out of the Russian team if Sharapova was selected.
Myskina, the first Russian
woman to win a Grand Slam at
Roland Garros in 2004, the year
she spearheaded their first Fed
Cup victory, retired as a player in
2007 and took over the Fed Cup
captaincy in 2014.
Russia are favourites with
world number two Sharapova
joined by 27th-ranked Sveltana
Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand
Slam winner, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (34), and Vitalia Diatchenko (82).
World Group newcomers Poland will be led by former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, ranked eighth, after her
run to the fourth round of the
Australian Open, alongside her
younger sister Urszula, ranked
Alicja Rosolska and Klaudia
Jans-Ignacik will be on doubles
duty for Poland.
In Quebec City, the Czech
holders are favourites having won
all five of their previous meetings with the Canadians, despite
being without top players Petra
Kvitova and Lucie Safarova.
World number 20 Karolina
Pliskova, 68th-ranked Tereza
Smitkova, 107th-ranked Denisa
Allertova and doubles specialist
Lucie Hradecka, will line out in
the first meeting between the two
sides since 2002.
“I think the team that’s going
to Canada is good enough to succeed,” said Czech team captain
Petr Pala, whose side have won
three of the last four titles.
Canada, whose best result was
a semi-final in 1988, will be without world number seven Eugenie
In Stuttgart, Australia face
Germany for the third time in
four years.
Germany won last year’s semifinal in Brisbane, but Australia’s
Samantha Stosur believes their
chances are improved with three
players ranked inside the top 60.
“I don’t think we’ve had a team
this solid on the rankings for
quite a while,” 25th-ranked Stosur said.
Stosur will be joined by 35thranked Casey Dellacqua, Jarmila Gajdosova (54) and Olivia
Rogowksa (157).
Seven-time winners Australia
have not lifted the trophy since
1974, but are boosted by winning in Stuttgart in 2012 to secure
their return to the competition’s
top tier.
Germany have a strong side
with world number 10 Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic
(12), Sabine Lisicki (28) and Julia
Goerges (69).
France captain Amelie Mauresmo also arrives from Melbourne and her coaching role
with Australian Open men’s runner-up Andy Murray.
Mauresmo will be counting on
Alize Cornet (19), Caroline Garcia (36), Kristina Mladenovic (71)
and Pauline Parmentier (86) for
their claycourt tie in Italy.
Italy, winners of four titles in
the last decade, are without top
ranked Flavia Pennetta, but their
team includes Sara Errani 14th,
Camilia Giorgi (31), Roberta Vinci
(40) and Karin Knapp (53).
paniard Alejandro Canizares picked up three
shots in his last four
holes to card a spot-free
seven-under-par 65 and surge
into a tie for the lead with champion Lee Westwood at the halfway stage of the Malaysian Open
Former world number one
Westwood, tied for the lead
overnight with Ryder Cup team
mate Graeme McDowell, produced a 67 in his second round in
the $3 million event at the Kuala
Lumpur Golf and Country Club
that is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
The Englishman, who also
won the event in 1997, mixed
six birdies with a lone bogey in
his second round to open up a
three-shot lead at one point, but
a strong finish from Canizares
for the lowest score this week
left him equal on 11-under.
“I played nicely again,” Westwood said. “It was pretty solid
again and I probably only hit one
poor shot all day, from the middle of the fairway on the fifth
hole - I was going in with a five
iron and blocked it right into the
“Other than that it was very
good, and I felt very comfortable
out there. I hit a lot of fairways
and some good iron shots and
made some nice putts.
“It was great to birdie two of
the last three and go from one in
front to three in front.”
The duo were three strokes
ahead of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (66) in third on eight-under, with England’s Paul Waring
(68) and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie
(66) a stroke further back in
Canizares came to Malaysia
riding some good form having already finished 12th in Abu
Dhabi and eighth in Qatar this
year, and he will hope to finish
even higher this week.
“It was a lot of fun and I played
really well,” the 32-year-old
said. “I wasn’t so good off the tee
today, but I putted really well.
“I made some great up-anddowns when I missed a shot, and
I’m very happy overall. I can’t
wait for the weekend - it will be
a lot of fun.
“It’s a great position to be in
and I couldn’t ask for any better.
Hopefully I can keep it going.”
McDowell’s round was spoiled
by a bogey and a double-bogey
on the 11th and 12th holes and
he finished on 73, for a two-day
total of five-under and eighth
Pancake leads
rain-hit Bahamas
LPGA Classic
Paradise Island
rooke Pancake fired a
six-under 67 on Thursday to grab a one-shot
lead in the weather-disrupted first round of the Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Pancake, starting her third
full season on the LPGA Tour, is
seeking her first career win. In
fact, she has yet to nab a top-10
finish in her 39 starts.
The American was one stroke
in front of former world number
one Park In-Bee of South Korea
and Americans Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis, who
were all in the clubhouse on fiveunder 68.
Spain’s Azahara Munoz carded a 69 on the Ocean Club Golf
Course at Atlantis Resort.
She was joined in the clubhouse on four-under by American Gerina Piller and Thailand’s
Ariya Jutanugarn, while France’s
Joanna Klatten was four-under
through 12 holes when play was
halted by heavy rain that left the
course unplayable.
“I luckily got to get out early
this morning and really took advantage of not as strong of a wind
on my first nine,” Pancake said.
“And I putted really well. I gave
myself a lot of birdie looks and I
really took advantage of those.”
Park, who was toppled from
the world number one spot by
teenager Lydia Ko on Monday,
enjoyed a round highlighted by
an eagle at the seventh and three
birdies on the back nine.
Ko, at 17 the youngest golfer to
claim the number one ranking,
was one-under par through eight
holes when play was suspended.
“We’ve still got 10 more holes
and I know there are birdie opportunities,” said Ko, who teed
off on 10 and was playing 18
when the round was halted.
“The 18th is a par-five, too,
we’ve just got to stay patient and
hopefully I will make a couple
more birdies down the stretch.”
Before the round began, LPGA
commissioner Mike Whan presented Ko and her caddie, Jason
Hamilton, with the green caddie’s bib with the number one on
the back.
Hamilton also wore the green
bib when he caddied for Taiwan’s
Yani Tseng during her tenure at
the top, but Ko admitted the little ceremony was exciting.
“He had the green bib with
Yani before so he’s used to it more
than me,” Ko said. “But that was
really cool. It was in this black,
very professional little case.”
Thursday’s delays marked the
second tournament in as many
weeks that the elements have
disrupted an LPGA event.
Last week in Ocala, Florida
play was delayed by frost and
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Sepang Circuit: From white elephant to success story
By Joe Koraith
otorsport is a very
expensive business.
And it is even more so
for those in the business of motorsport. The powers
that be in Formula 1 and MotoGP
are trying to reach out to different countries that are building
circuits to woo the promoters.
But building a motorsport circuit
and sustaining it is not everyone’s
cup of tea. And it is in this fiercely
competitive world that Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit
(SIC) is thriving.
Formula 1 came to the SIC, 17
years ago, but after its initial success, the circuit was slowly turn-
ing into a white elephant. In 2009,
Sharmila Nadarajah was brought
in, then as the Chief Strategy Officer, to turn around the fortunes
of the SIC.
From just 40 per cent utilisation of the circuit to almost 100
per cent currently, Sharmila, now
Chief Commercial Officer of the
SIC, is credited with the circuit’s
Gulf Times caught up with her
during her visit to Doha for the
Qatar Motor Show 2015 and asked
her how she managed to do it.
Q: How viable is it to run a motorsport circuit? Or to put it better
how does one make it viable?
A: For Sepang International
circuit the rights fee is taken care
by the government of Malaysia.
So the circuit only takes up the
operating costs and for that we
get the ticket sales and that is
more than enough.
The international events are
there only three times a year. We
did an economic impact study
last year to determine whether
we should continue F1 or not and
the returns are still there in terms
of the tourists spending within
Malaysia. Plus you can’t beat the
fact that F1 has 63 million viewers worldwide and that sort of
puts Malaysia on the map. And if
you add all that up it’s still about
1:4 returns in terms of our investment.
Q: What about the competition
from other circuits in the area like
A: Since we started hosting F1,
Singapore, Korea and even India
came into play. But it hasn’t been
a big impact. Thankfully Singapore is in September and we are
in March. So you don’t really have
to choose which one you want to
go to. Singapore is a street circuit and it’s in the night so it is a
different experience altogether.
We’re like a hot, fast, loud kind of
an experience.
Q: So would you say motorsport
is a viable business?
A: I wouldn’t say it is profitmaking for the rider or the driver.
But it is profit-making for us at
the circuit. The circuit has been
there for 16 years. The team that
we have currently running the
circuit has been there only for
seven years. Prior to that it was a
white elephant. It came to a point
where the government said that
the land value was more as a commercial property or a residential
property because they weren’t
getting the returns they were expecting. And then we were asked
to come up with a turnaround
plan. We said that it’s much more
than a motorsport circuit. It’s 300
hectares of land here.
It’s not as easy to get business
today as it was when we first started out six years ago. I now have to
compete with several other players to get the same amount of
things. In terms of circuits, safety
is the biggest thing. When everyone else is trying to sell the same
thing, then it becomes tough. In
a way, we have weathered it over
the last few years. We would like
to be a little bit quiet sometimes
but there is really no downtime.
Marussia’s bid to use
old car opposed
Marussia application to race with old car rejected; Force India say request was ‘speculative’
arussia’s hopes of rising from the dead to
race in next month’s
Formula One seasonopener in Australia have suffered
a setback after rivals rejected a
proposal to let them compete
with last year’s car.
“It needed all the teams to
agree and there were three or
four of them that didn’t,” Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said after
a Strategy Group meeting.
“Maybe the other teams
would have liked to use last
year’s car. The trouble was that
you can’t do these things for
one team, you have got to do it
for everybody,” the 84-year-old
told yesterday’s Independent
The strategy group, which
currently comprises champions
Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams,
Ferrari, McLaren and Force India plus the governing FIA and
commercial rights holders, met
in Paris on Thursday.
The response to Marussia’s
request will do little to dispel
the notion of the hugely expensive sport being a ‘piranha club’
whose members are primarily
focused on their own interests.
However, Force India’s deputy principal Bob Fernley, whose
team joined Sauber and Lotus last year in calling for more
help to struggling teams and a
greater share of the revenues,
described Marussia’s application as ‘speculative’.
“During the meeting it
emerged that there were com-
Sharmila Nadarajah
Marquez leads at
Malaysian test
Kuala Lumpur
showed why he is
still a force to reckon with as he led the pack for two
out of three days of pre-season
MotoGP winter testing which
ended yesterday at Malaysia’s
Sepang circuit.
The Honda rider, mostly using a new version of his 2014
bike, ended the final day of testing clocking 1 minute and 58.867
seconds, breaking his own unofficial track record set last year at
1 min 59.533 secs.
Marquez was the fastest out
of 28 riders on the opening day
of testing Wednesday as well,
clocking 2 min 0.262 secs during his penultimate lap in typical
sizzling Malaysian temperatures.
The Spaniard became the
youngest rider ever to win the
world title in 2013, and the first
rookie to win in 35 years.
Hot on his heels Friday was
team mate Dani Pedrosa who
was the second fastest rider of
the day trailing Marquez by 0.139
seconds while Ducati team’s
Andrea Iannone took the third
spot on the timesheets with a
0.521-second gap.
Nine-time Grand Prix champion Valentino Rossi, who is
hungry to add more silverware to
his mantel, was the fouth fastest
rider at 1 min 59.401 secs.
Trailing Rossi was Yamaha
teammate Jorge Lorenzo on 1 min
59.624 secs.
Top riders come to Sepang
early each year for a pair of test
sessions—the next one starts on
February 24 — putting bikes and
equipment through their paces
on the tight-turning circuit in
preparation for the coming season.
The new season officially kicks
off in Qatar on March 29 and
Malaysia will host the penultimate leg of the championship on
October 25.
Stosur leads Australian charge
to down Germany
pliance issues and that the application lacked substance,” he
Fernley said no details had
been given about the potential new owners or how the
team would be run and the application lacked supporting
documentation to support Marussia’s case for special dispensation.
“Given the lack of information, uncertain guarantees, and
the speculative nature of the
application, the decision was
taken that it is better to focus on
ensuring the continued participation of the remaining independent teams,” he said.
Marussia went into administration and ceased trading last
October, missing the last three
races of 2014. They still finished
ninth overall and ahead of Sauber and stricken Caterham.
That position put them in
line for some 30 million pounds
($45.97 million) in prize money.
Marussia have paid their entry fee for 2015, as Manor Grand
Prix, and plan to come out of
administration on Feb. 19 via a
Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) agreed by creditors.
Media reports have indicated
that former Sainsbury’s chief
executive Justin King is part of
a consortium seeking to revive
the team.
Being allowed to use last
year’s car would have helped but
the refusal may not be a deal-
blocker since teams can miss
three races.
That would give them until
mid-April to satisfy the 2015
regulations, which differ mainly
in nose height, and pass crash
Marussia’s Banbury factory
has been sold, with the U.S.owned Haas team planning to
use it as their European base
when they enter F1 next year,
but Manor have a facility in Dinnington, northern England.
Sailors in action during the Sail the Gulf Regatta at Katara yesterday. India’s Chitresh Tatha won the Optimist race, while the UAE’s Saif al-Mansoury was second. PICTURES: Jayaram
Sam Stosur says Australia will not be there just to make up the
numbers when they face 2014 finalists Germany in this weekend’s
first round Fed Cup tie. The 30-year-old Stosur is the top-ranked in a
relatively inexperienced Australia side looking to repeat their 2012
win over the Germans at Stuttgart’s Porsche Arena.
Three of the quartet for the World Group tie helped Australia to a 3-2
win over Germany two years ago and are looking to avenge their 3-1
semi-final defeat to the Germans in Brisbane last April.
“We’ve got as good a chance as anyone, but because there are only
eight teams it’s never going to be easy,” said Stosur, ahead of her
27th Fed Cup tie. “We’ve come up against Germany again so it’s
definitely a tough one.”
Australia lead the head-to-head series 8-5, but the Germans field a
strong team with three players in the top 30, including 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki and tenth-ranked Angelique Kerber.
The hosts want a convincing win to banish memories of their 3-1
defeat to the Czech Republic in the 2014 final. The Germans are feeling the pressure to perform at home after all four of their team were
knocked out in the opening round of the Australian Open.
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
New Zealand, Fiji shine in Wellington Sevens
ew Zealand and Fiji
were the only teams to
emerge from pool play
unbeaten in the Wellington round of the IRB Sevens
World Series yesterday while
South Africa only just scraped
into the playoffs.
The US, Scotland and Kenya
proved the surprise packages to
make the quarter-finals with
Australia and England round-
ing out the final eight.
Series leaders South Africa
suffered a shock loss to France
in pool play and had to rely on
a superior points differential to
qualify for the quarter-finals.
A tensely fought Pool A saw
South Africa, France and the US
all finish with seven points, with
France forced to drop down to
the bowl section on the final day.
South Africa, who have won
two of the three rounds so far,
needed to beat the US by at least
four points in their final game,
which they comfortably did with
taly hope to forget their
disastrous 2014 when they
host defending Six Nations champions Ireland
in their tournament opener
Since becoming the ‘sixth’
nation in 2000, Italy have repeatedly battled, often along
with Scotland, to avoid the indignity of finishing bottom of
the table among Europe’s elite
rugby union nations.
Although 2013 saw real signs
of progress with victories over
Ireland and France, Italy lost
all of their Six Nations matches last year to finish with the
dreaded wooden spoon.
Starting this year’s tournament against an Irish side that
Italy coach Jacques Brunel has
dubbed “the best side in the
northern hemisphere” does
not look ideal on paper for the
home side.
But the Frenchman, who
earlier this week said he has
no plans to renew his contract
when it runs out in 2016, has
embraced the challenge.
Brunel has called for Italy to
make the most of their three
home games at the Stadio Olimpico, beginning with a performance against the Irish that
will show Italy are not so far
below the more ‘traditional’
rugby playing nations.
“It’s a year in which we have
three home games, so we owe
it to ourselves to win at home.
I’m convinced we’re not that
far off the other big nations,”
Brunel said.
“This first match will give
us an idea of how we stand. It
won’t be the easiest because
the Irish are favourites, they’re
confident, and they won almost everything last year.
“We’re hoping they won’t
be at their very best in their
first game of the tournament.
“But for us to win, we need
100% precision and 100% efficiency. We can’t afford to be
at 70 of 80%.”
Lacking those crucial percentages was Italy’s key problem during a disastrous 2014,
in which they suffered 10 defeats and won only once.
red carded for a tip tackle early in
the second half.
Fiji made a slow start in Pool C,
held to 12-12 at half-time in their
opener against Portugal before
pulling away to win 31-19 and following up with comfortable wins
against Wales and Australia.
Kenya finished top in Pool D
despite being well beaten by Argentina 31-7. The South Americans were unable to hold their
form and were held to a draw by
Samoa and were beaten by Scotland, the other side to qualify
from their group.
Italy seek
New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane scores a try on day one of the IRB International Sevens rugby tournament at
Westpac Stadium in Wellington yesterday.
a 26-14 win, to knock France out
of contention.
The French had opened the
tournament with a 22-5 thrashing of South Africa but their
points differential was skewed
when they were subjected to a
38-7 hiding by the US.
New Zealand, the defending
World Series champions, were
untroubled in Pool B winning an
expected crunch match against
England 24-5 after being held to
5-5 at half-time.
Their task was made easier
when Richard de Carpentier was
Not far from victory
Following last year’s tournament Italy conceded defeats
to Fiji, Samoa and Japan on
their summer tour.
In the wake of their sole win,
over Samoa in November, Italy
showed promise in a narrow
20-18 defeat to Argentina and a
heavier 22-6 loss to South Africa.
Yet Brunel believes Italy
have never been far from victory in several of those defeats.
“Over the past two years we
suffered two last-minute defeats to Scotland, two narrow
defeats to Argentina, pushed
England hard at Twickenham (2013), and in June suffered defeat to Japan and Fiji in
matches we should have won,”
he said.
In November, “we had the
chance to beat Argentina,
against South Africa we were
trailing only 15-6 at half-time
and on a par with the second
best team in the world.
“That makes about six or
seven games we lost out on
through our lack of efficiency.”
Italy have won only four of
their previous 23 matches with
Ireland, who last year whipped
the Azzurri 46-7 in Dublin to
more than make amends for
their 22-15 loss to Brunel’s men
in 2013.
Despite this being the first
Six Nations tournament without retired centre great Brian
O’Driscoll, it would be hard to bet
against the Irish avenging their
defeat in Rome two years ago.
Ireland proved there was
life after ‘BOD’ by winning all
three of their recent November
Tests, which included victories over South Africa (29-15)
and Australia (26-23).
Sean O’Brien has been included in the Ireland starting
side just days after returning
to competitive action.
The British and Irish Lions
flanker is set to play his first
Test since November 2013
when Ireland begin the defence of their title in Rome
following two shoulder reconstruction operations.
But 14 months on the sidelines ended when the 27-yearold O’Brien played for the second-string Irish Wolfhounds
against the England Saxons on
January 30.
France expecting
improved Scotland
under Vern Cotter
‘It’ll be a very tough start to the championship, but we’re looking forward to that challenge’
cotland have only beaten
France once in their last
15 clashes and last won
in Paris in 1999 but under New Zealander Vern Cotter,
their hosts today are expecting a
much improved challenge.
Having dominated the early
internationals between the two
countries—winning 14 of the
first 20 - Scotland have found
France the toughest team to beat
in the Six Nations since winning
the final Five Nations championship before Italy joined the party.
In the 15 years of Six Nations
rugby, Scotland have three wins
against each of England, Wales
and Ireland—nine against Italy—but just the one against the
Yet France’s South Africanborn scrum-half Rory Kockott,
who will make his first start for
Les Bleus following three substitute appearances in November,
believes the Scots will be a different proposition under former
Clermont boss Cotter.
“Certainly Vern has brought a
whole lot of detail to their game
that certainly has been a benefit
to their performances,” said the
Castres half-back.
“They won five of the last
seven (matches) and what certainly flashes the red light in
certain areas when your team is
playing against them, is the way
they’ve improved in all the details around the contact.
“Certainly it’s something
Vern’s brought to them and
certainly a great aspect of their
game that they’re very good at.
“It’s something we know is
going to be very difficult.”
Having had a dismal Six Nations
in 2014, with only a last minute
Duncan Weir drop goal in Rome
seeing them avoid the wooden
spoon at Italy’s expense, Scotland
have since won five from their last
seven matches, losing only to the
top two sides in the world—New
Zealand and South Africa.
Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw trains during the Captain’s run at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris yesterday. France will play against
Scotland in their Six Nations Championship match today.
However, they were thrashed
55-6 in Port Elizabeth in June
and a second string All Blacks
side triumphed 24-16 at Murrayfield in November, while
their five wins included success
against relative minnows Tonga,
Canada and USA.
Even so, France full-back
Scott Spedding, another South
African import, said he’s expecting a stern test from the Scots.
“They use quite a lot of upand-unders, we’ll have to be
wary of that, but I think they’ve
improved a lot this last year under
Vern Cotter as coach,” he said.
“They have a very good de-
fence, they push up quickly in
defence, and have wings who
like to intercept, so we have to
pay attention to that.”
France coach Philippe SaintAndre has picked 12 of the
players who started their November victories over Fiji and
Australia, while Cotter has
made only two changes to the
side that defeated Tonga 37-12
in their last test.
However, three players—flyhalf Finn Russell, centre Mark
Bennett and flanker Blair Cowan—will be making their Six Nations bow.
Scotland’s 2014 tournament
may have been poor—humbled
20-0 at home to England and
finishing with a 51-3 whupping
in Wales—but Cotter pointed
out that France’s recent Six Nations form hasn’t been sparkling
They took the wooden spoon
in the 2013 edition—the first
time they suffered that ignominy
since Italy joined the fray—and
finished only fourth last year despite winning three matches.
“France will be tough. They
played well in the autumn series
but remain frustrated with past
results in the RBS Six Nations,”
said Cotter.
“They will be very difficult
to contain so we’ll have to stay
tight as a unit, work hard for
each other and try to apply some
“It’ll be a very tough start to
the championship, but we’re
looking forward to that challenge.”
For only the third time in their
history, France will wear a red
shirt—their change strip usually
has a white shirt.
However, this may be a good
omen as the previous two occasions saw them beat Australia
19-0 in 1958 and Scotland 9-0
a year later, both times in Paris.
Pau lifestyle, family sway Conrad Smith to France
ll Blacks centre Conrad
Smith has signed up for
French second division
leaders Pau, becoming
the third New Zealand player to
switch to France after this year’s
World Cup.
The 33-year-old, the mostcapped All Blacks centre with 85
games, said lifestyle and family
swayed his decision.
He had decided this would be
his last year playing in New Zealand and was looking at a possible future outside rugby when
the Pau offer came along.
“I do my research and I don’t
make decisions lightly, so I’ve
spent a lot of time talking to the
people involved with the club,”
Smith said.
“I still haven’t been there, but
it sounds promising and that is
why I have decided to join them.
“It is a cool place. I’ve had
some family who have spent
some time there and I’ve spoken
to some of the players and there
is a bit going on.”
Smith, who has scored 25 Test
tries and was a member of the
2011 World Cup-winning squad,
penned a two-year deal.
The current Hurricanes captain will join compatriot and
former Hurricanes player Simon
Mannix who coaches the ambitious south-western club.
Pau are well-placed for promotion to the Top 14, boasting a
14-point lead over their Pro D2
Smith said that becoming a
father last year played a signifi-
Conrad Smith
cant part in his decision.
“I have loved my time in the
All Blacks, I wouldn’t change a
thing, but it does require a lot of
time away from home and that
wasn’t a sacrifice I was willing to
carry on making, so that is why
we looked at something else,” he
“One was to do some more
study at one of the universities in
Europe, another was to play, and
another was to do something
else, something separate outside
of rugby.”
Smith said he wanted “to
spend more time as a husband
and father, which was the main
motivation for me when I made
the decision”.
All Blacks star fly-half Dan
Carter has already said he will
quit New Zealand rugby after the
September 18-October 31 World
Cup in England.
He has signed a three-year
contract with Racing Metro
while fellow centre Ma’a Nonu
will play two seasons at champions Toulon. Richie McCaw, Tony
Woodcock and Keven Mealamu
are the only senior All Blacks yet
to confirm their post-World Cup
“On behalf of the All Blacks,
I want to publicly acknowledge
the outstanding contribution
Conrad has made—and continues to make—to the All Blacks,”
said New Zealand coach Steve
“He is a world-class player
and leader in our team and we
look forward to that continuing
this season. We in the All Blacks
wish both Conrad and his wife
all the very best for their new
adventures next season.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Doha RFC blank out Jebel
Ali Dragons, stay second
‘In the first 40 minutes, the ball wasn’t clean. We were not getting into the sort of numbers and situations we
should have been. So we were on the back foot. Luckily we toughed it out in defence to go 3-0 at half time’
Action from the match between Doha RFC and Jebel Ali Dragons which was held yesterday at the Doha Rugby Football Centre yesterday. PICTURES: Najeer Feroke
By Mikhil Bhat
oha RFC overcame a difficult
first half to blank out Jebel Ali
Dragons 27-0 in their Gulf Top
6 match at home yesterday.
With table leaders Abu Dhabi Saracens winning their game 22-8 at
bottom-placed Bahrain RFC yesterday,
Doha’s win means that they stay put in
second place in the competition with
19 points. Saracens lead the standings
with 23 points.
The first half saw a few moves building up in both the halves of the Doha
turf but there was nothing that could
trouble the scorer. Hosts’ defence
saved the half not allowing Dragons,
the West Asia champions for two years
in a row, to make any headway, even as
the offence couldn’t up the momentum.
Moments before the break, Stefano
Hunt put the first points on the board,
making it 3-0 in favour of the hosts
with the last kick of the half.
Coach Aaron Palmer’s words must
have done some good to his players as
Doha began the first half on a much
better note. Minutes into the half, Greg
Evans was under the posts and Hunt
Doha RFC’s Luke Ward (right) makes a run for the try line during their Gulf Top 6
match against Jebel Ali Dragons at Doha RFC ground yesterday.
Doha RFC’s Greg Evans (left) runs past a Jebel Ali Dragons player during their
Gulf Top 6 match at Doha RFC ground yesterday.
made no mistake with his conversion
as hosts surged into a 10-0 lead.
Ten odd minutes into the second
half, Doha was awarded yet another
penalty and Hunt made it 13-0.
Palmer sent in Robbie Gaule and
Jonathan Davis to get his team mov-
ing better and Gaule almost immediately made his presence felt with a try,
which was duly converted by Hunt.
Davis had been making some amazing tackles in his half but soon found
himself in a run with Aaron McLelland
on the right flank.
McLelland took the ball past halfline before side-stepping a Dragons
player and passing on to Davis who got
it as close to the posts before lobbing
the ball to Jamie Clarke.
Clarke got the touchdown and Hunt
converted for a 27-0 scoreline.
“In the first 40 minutes, the ball
wasn’t clean. We were not getting into
the sort of numbers and situations we
should have been. So we were on the
backfoot. Luckily we toughed it out in
defence to go 3-0 at half time,” Palmer
told Gulf Times after the match.
Speaking about introduction of
Gaule and Davis into the game, he said,
“We just wanted a bit more mobility
in the pack; get the forwards moving
around the pack, which we were not
doing up until then. We were just laboring. Once we got them moving, all
we had to do was use the width.
“Things started moving from there.
We wanted to spread them (Dragons’
players) wide, and then things started
to open up from there.”
Palmer rued the missed chance of
scoring a bonus point. “That will leave
us on 19 points. It would have been
good to get a bonus but we only got
three tries, so we are only on 19. But we
have to stay in touch with them (Saracens),” he said.
Kuwait’s Ahmed al-Dawas claims victory
By Sports Reporter
uwait’s Ahmed Rashed al-Dawas claimed victory in the Pro
Marathon race for aqua bikes,
held in conjunction with the
UIM Qatar Cup in Doha Bay, yesterday
The Kuwaiti fended off a strong
Qatari challenge for overall honours,
which saw local hero Abdullah Mohamed Ali claim second position and
fellow Qatari Mohammed al-Heidus
round off the podium places.
Kuwait’s Hamad al-Dalai reached
the chequered flag in fourth overall and
the Qatari racers, Waleed Mahmoud alSharshani and Rashed al-Mannai, were
fifth and sixth.
Kuwait’s Abdulaziz al-Najdi and the
Qatari trio of Rashed Rashed al-Muhannadi, Mubarak Khalifa al-Khuleifi
Ahmed Rashed al-Dawas of Kuwait
wins the Pro Marathon race at the
UIM Qatar Cup.
Pro Marathon race results
1.Ahmed Rashed al-Dawas (KUW)
2.Abdullah Mohamed Ali (QAT)
3.Mohamed al-Haidus (QAT)
4.Hamad al-Dalali (KUW)
5.Waleed al-Sharshani (QAT)
09.00 - 09.45: Inshore race 2 (C2)
10.00 – 10.45: Inshore race 2 (C1)
11.00 - 11.45: Inshore race 1 (C225)
14.30 - 15.15: Offshore race 2 (SuperCat Lite)
15.30 – 16.15: Offshore race 2 (SuperVee and SuperCat)
16.45 Awards ceremony
and Khaled Mohamed al-Malki rounded off the top 10. Ten other racers, including entrants from Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates, failed to finish a thrilling race held in perfect conditions on the clear waters of Doha Bay.
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day
by UIM Qatar Cup standards, but it
gave all the registered Pro Marathon
aquabike racers from Qatar, Kuwait,
the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan the
chance to impress in their very own
race. Doha Bay was then opened for
both Inshore and Offshore testing late
in the afternoon.
Today is the final day of the inaugural
Qatar Cup and the busiest of the four
days. The second C2 and C1 races take
centre stage on the Inshore course from
09.00hrs until 10.45hrs and they precede the UIM World 225 Championship
race, starting at 11.00hrs.
The afternoon belongs to the Offshore racers and SuperCat Lites venture out on to the water for their second race from 14.30hrs. The second
encounter for the SuperVee and SuperCat entrants brings the racing to a
close from 15.30hrs before the awards
ceremony at 16.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Elizabeth Armitstead
becomes first British rider
to win Ladies Tour of Qatar
‘It’s a really nice surprise as I didn’t come here to win; I came here for the training, and to find out what I’m missing’
Elizabeth Armitstead of Boels Dolmans (left) receives her trophy. (Right) Armitstead (centre) poses with second-placed Australian Chloe Hosking (right) and The Netherlands’ Ellen Van Dijk who finished third. PICTURES: Jayaram
By Yash Mudgal
lizabeth Armitstead of Boels
Dolmans became the first British rider to win the 7th Ladies
Tour of Qatar after she won
the last stage in a gripping finish at the
Corniche, yesterday.
Armitstead, silver medallist at the
2012 London Olympics and 2014 World
Cup overall winner, won by 12 seconds
over closest rival Australian Chloe Hosking of Wiggle-Honda after a 85km race
which started from Sealine Beach.
Her teammate Van Dijk came third at
22 seconds.
The seven-year history of the tour
has been dominated by the Dutch stars
Kirsten Wild – four time winner and
Ellen Van Dijk — once. German Judith
Arndt was the only non-Dutch rider
exception until yesterday. Wild did not
participated this year as she was concentrating on track event.
Armitstead needed to finish third
to pip Hosking to the title, but the
26-year-old from Yorkshire narrowly
edged out the Australian with bonus
second in the final sprint at the finish
line to claim the final stage — her sec-
ond success in two days — and overall
Hosking also acknowledged Armitstead fine efforts during the four-day
“I was beaten by a better rider. Lizzie
was in really good shape and I am not
ashamed to be beaten by her,” Hosking
told Gulf Times.
Armitstead won the third stage to Al
Khor and yesterday’s stage at the Corniche earned her 20 bonus seconds and
foiled Hosking’s designs to emerge as
overall winner.
“It’s a really nice surprise as I didn’t
come here to win; I came here for the
training, and to find out what I’m
missing. I’m in better shape than I expected,” said the 26-year-old Armitstead said.
In the intermediate sprints, however, Hosking picked up two seconds
and moved within striking distance
of the overall win. If Hosking won the
stage, Armitstead had to place second
or third to win the overall.
“We probably went early but I was
caught off guard. That put more pressure on in the final sprint, but I learnt
from it for the finish,” Armitstead said.
“It was difficult to judge the wind;
although it was crosswind, sometimes
1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels
Dolmans Cycling Team 9:59:25
2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
3 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans
Cycling Team 0:00:22
4 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS
6 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda
7 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) VelocioSRAM 0:02:29
8 Pascale Jeuland (Fra) France
9 Amy Pieters (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur
10 Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS 0:02:37
1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels
Dolmans Cycling Team
2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
3 Barbara Guarischi (Ita) VelocioSRAM 9
4 Roxane Fournier (Fra) France 7
it was coming off the sea. With the
bend in the road at 200m to go, it be-
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica–AIS 6
6 Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv
Women Cycling Team 5
7 Kelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Pro-Duo 4
8 Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy 3
9 Pascale Jeuland (Fra) France 2
10 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) VelocioSRAM 1
1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels
Dolmans Cycling Team 50pts
2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
3 Shelley Olds-Evans (USA) Bigla Pro
Cycling Team 23
4 Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv
Women Cycling Team 21
5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 19
1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels
Dolmans Cycling Team 3pts
2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
3 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 1
came a headwind.”
Armitstead also conquers the silver
1 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
2 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda
3 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels
Dolmans Cycling Team
1 Beatrice Bartelloni (Ita) Ale Cipollini
2 Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy 0:08:53
3 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ale
4 Soline Lamboley (Fra) France
5 Yue Bai (Chn) China Chongming-LivChampion System Pro Cycling 0:11:09
1 Wiggle Honda 30:02:00
2 Orica-AIS 0:02:04
3 Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
4 Velocio – Sram 0:11:00
5 Ale Cipollini 0:15:21
jersey of point’s classification, while
Beatrice Bartelloni of ALE finishes best
“We probably went early but I
was caught off guard. That put
more pressure on in the final
sprint, but I learnt from it for the
finish. It was difficult to judge the
wind; although it was crosswind,
sometimes it was coming off the
sea. With the bend in the road at
200m to go, it became a headwind,” Armitstead said
young rider of the event in pearl white
jersey. Wiggle Honda claims the title of
best team.
“It was so close. It was bittersweet
moment but I am happy to finish second as it’s a good sign for the rest of the
season,” Hosking said.
“I didn’t get time bonus at second
and third stage finish and I think that
was the difference at the end otherwise
it was really a good weekend. It was my
first week racing with the new team…
four of the six girls here are new … I
think we came together very well particular in the last stage and we came so
close to stage win,” she said.
Talking about his victory chances in
Doha, Hosking said: “Since last three
year’s, I always come with objective to
win here and hopefully next year I will
be fourth time lucky.”
Smith and Zimmerman winners of the Race 1
Zaid Ashkanani wins the first race
of Round 4 of Porsche GT3 CUP
Challenge ME
By Sports Reporter
llie Smith and Eric Zimmerman
won yesterday the first race of
Radical Middle East Cup held
at Losail International Circuit.
The duo of car number 95 started in second position in the grid and took the lead
immediately after the first lap until the
checkered flag. The second position was
for the Russian driver Sergey Shalunov
of the team Arloid Intrahouse. The third
position in the Supersports category was
for the French duo Romain Lutter and
Ludo Loffreda who got the pole position
In the Clubmans category, the win
was for Salman al-Khater from Qatar
and the second place was for Catalin
Voicu from Romania and Hamad alAsam from Qatar. John and Matt Illingworth came in third position.
Trophies were presented by Sultan Zaher al-Morraikhi, QMMF Board Member.
In the Porsche GT3 CUP Challenge
Ollie Smith and Eric Zimmerman won the first race of Radical Middle East Cup.
Porsche GT3 CUP Challenge ME podium photo at the Losail international Circuit yesterday.
Zaid Ashkanani won the first race of Round 4 of Porsche GT3 CUP Challenge ME .
ME, the Kuwati driver Zaid Ashkanani
won the first race of Round 4. Ashkanani took the pole position yesterday and
lead the 12 laps race until the end. The
leader of the championship, Clemens
Schmid came in second position with
a gap of 3.050 behind Ashkanani. The
third position was for the Saudi Arabian
driver Fahad Algosaibi.
In the silver category, the winner was
Fahad Algosaibi and the second classified was Saeed al-Mehari from UAE.
The Bahrain driver Raed Raffi came
third in the Silver category.
The winner in the Bronze category
was Rob Frijns from Netherlands.
Trophies were presented by Sultan Zaher al-Morraikhi, QMMF Board
Member and Walter Lechner, Head &
Promoter of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge ME.
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