SPORT | Page 12 BUSINESS | Page 1 INDEX QATAR 2, 20 3 REGION ARAB WORLD INTERNATIONAL 4, 5 6 – 17 COMMENT 18, 19 BUSINESS 1 – 12 CLASSIFIED SPORTS 7 1 – 12 Middle East airlines post 13% traffic growth in ’14 Armitstead first British rider to win Ladies Tour of Qatar DOW JONES QE NYMEX 17,806.21 12,520.66 52.05 -78.67 -0.44% +104.73 +0.84% +1.57 +3.11% Latest Figures pu d he R is bl TA 978 A 1 Q since in GULF TIMES SATURDAY Vol. XXXV No. 9626 February 7, 2015 Rabia II 18, 1436 AH www. gulf-times.com 2 Riyals Kerry meets GCC ministers in Munich Houthis dissolve parliament 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 MAURITIUS | Probe 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 T 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 exhibition. 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 Q5. 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 Reuters Sanaa Y 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 said. 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 takeover. “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 T 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 days. “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 retailer. 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 2 QATAR Art and sport fuse talents in aid of poor children By Denise Marray GT London Correspondent T 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. T 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 Q 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 balcony, acquitted he Criminal Court has acquitted a man, who was accused of throwing his wife to death from the balcony of their fourth ﬂoor apartment. 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 reported. 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 captured. The defence relied on the testimony of the son of the victim who had told the housemaid that his mother threw herself from the balcony. 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 balcony. Qatar congratulates N Zealand, UK queen H 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 occasion. Kulluna launches Paediatric Pain Awareness Week I 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.” Gary Sykes, president, 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 harm.” 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 3 REGION/ARAB WORLD Kerry stresses March deadline in talks with Zarif AFP Munich S 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 hypocrisy. “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 programme. Israel official suggests PM was misled on US speech Reuters Jerusalem A 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 bipartisan. 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 contest. 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 delegation. 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 9. 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 incident. “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 Europe. 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 AFP Berlin I 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 subversive. 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 distribution. 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 AFP Jerusalem U 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 yesterday. 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 report. “I am aware of it but I have nothing to add,” a spokesman said. 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. The convincing-looking 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. 4 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 ARAB WORLD Father, son die in Benghazi suicide bomb attack Agencies Benghazi A 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 said. He said the Islamists, who had been using the port to resupply with arms, were now cornered in the Souq al-Hut (ﬁsh market) district. 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 Nations. Air strikes by military kill 27 militants in Egypt’s Sinai Reuters Cairo M 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 January. 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 reported. Eighteen people were killed in the Brotherhood stronghold during the January 25 anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. 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 Thursday. Despite exclusive 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 displaced. 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 operations. “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 Agencies Tunis T 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 Tunisians. “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 posts. 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 ouster. 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 Reuters Beirut L 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 1990. 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 accords. 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 districts. “It doesn’t change what people feel inside,” said one man. Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 5 ARAB WORLD UAE urges arming Iraq Sunnis in IS ﬁght: media Reuters Dubai T 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 yesterday. 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 slipping. 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 death. 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 reported. 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 group. 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 AFP Beirut T 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 Iraq. 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 caliphate. 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 claim. “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. Amman’s government 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 might. “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 said. 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 atrocities. 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 AFP Amman Q 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 away. She held aloft a picture showing the murdered airman and bearing the words “Maaz the martyr of righteousness”. “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 T 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 people”. 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 atrocities. 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 AFP Brussels 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 condolences. 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- Reuters London A 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 Command. 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 statement. 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. 6 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 AFRICA Fears over abandoned orphans allayed: Unicef AFP Dakar A 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 abates. “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 hardship.” 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 Ebola. “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 Reuters Conakry T 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 sacrifices. 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 sacrifices. 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 AFP The Hague T 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 caught. 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 crimes. 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 rebels. 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 (WHO). 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 AFP Geneva P 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 yesterday. 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 said. 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 said. “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 treatment. 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 surviving”. After Chad, Boko Haram attacks Niger base DPA/Reuters Dakar I slamist militant group Boko Haram attacked a military base in eastern Niger, expanding its reign of terror across the region, witnesses told DPA yesterday. 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 conﬁrmed. 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 said. “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 troops. 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 AFP Abuja N 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 scheduled.” 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 7 AMERICAS Top court says Canadians have the right to die Reuters Ottawa T he Supreme Court of Canada overturned a ban on physician-assisted 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 probe Anthem hacking Reuters New York S 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 matter. 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. T 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 DPA Washington A 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 alone. “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 2010. 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 strategy. “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 America”. 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 leadership”. National Security Adviser Susan Rice was scheduled to speak about the strategy later in the day. New York train wasn’t speeding before crash Reuters Tarrytown, New York T 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 Reuters 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 members. 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 death. 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 found. 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 Asia. 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 country. 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 PRB. “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 said. 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, Sumwalt. 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 Mercedes. 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 Terminal. “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 AFP New York H 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 misconduct. 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. 8 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 ASEAN Perfect pose Thailand boosts military ties with China amid US spat Reuters Bangkok C 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’ AFP Sydney A 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 Wednesday. “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 date. 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 Reuters Yangon N 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 offenders. 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 reporters. “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 AFP Yangon M 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 when Bangkok accused 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 2016. 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. yanmar yesterday 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 demonstrators. Malaysia, Indonesia to seek resolution of sea disputes AFP Putrajaya T 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 relationships. 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 advancement.” Widodo added that maritime disputes had “lingered for too long.” 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 that Indonesian workers 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 9 AUSTRALASIA/EAST ASIA CRITICISM DIPLOMACY PRECAUTION GAMBLING COMPENSATION 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 AFP Sydney P 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 AFP Beijing A 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 ﬂouted. 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 challenge. “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 leadership. “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. POLITICS Fast food chasing motorist held DPA Sydney A motorist caught speeding in the Australian city of Melbourne yesterday told police he was racing to get “a triple cheeseburger.” 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 said. 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 AFP Taipei O 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 footage. 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 noted. “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 qualiﬁed. 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. The TransAsia plane crashed shortly after take-off on a domestic flight to an outlying island. The startling footage 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 descent. 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. 10 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BRITAIN VERDICT FALLOUT PEOPLE EMPLOYMENT ANALYSIS 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 London T 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 resolved. 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 election. 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 finance initiative-funded 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’ Reuters London A 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 Reuters London B 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 said. 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 pensions. 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 Snowden. 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 agencies. 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 Agencies London A 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 side-stepped. 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 examination. 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 11 EUROPE Arson attack on Swedish Roma centre Putin hosts Hollande, Merkel for Ukraine talks AFP Stockholm AFP Moscow S 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 Europe.” “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 country. No eyewitnesses have come forward. “All these incidents are serious ... they can be classed as hate crimes or something similar,” police spokesman Peter Martin told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio. 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. G 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 army. “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 Putin. 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 Reuters Vatican City P ‘Couchsurfing’ host raped women An Italian police officer who posed as an amiable host on the Couchsurfing.com 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 Rome. Homeless receiving tourists’ umbrellas Reuters Vatican City P 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 yesterday. 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 soon. 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 days. 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 scandals. 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 telephone. “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 yesterday. 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 clergy. 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’ AFP Vatican City P 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. 12 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 INDIA LEGAL PEOPLE CONTROVERSY PROMOTION TRAGEDY 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. Religious minorities hail Obama tolerance call AFP New Delhi M 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 beliefs”. 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 IANS New Delhi O 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 IANS Patna T 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 said. 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 issued?” 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 IANS Guwahati U 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 “immigrants”. “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 protected.” 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 13 INDIA LEGAL OPINION REPRIEVE VIOLENCE ELECTION 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 #ShameTheRapistCampaign. 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. Yusuffali sponsors India’s biggest art event Chilli prices soar Sahara has no intention to sell assets, claims US ﬁrm By Ashraf Padanna Thiruvananthapuram N 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 International Airport Ltd (CIAL), which operates India’s ﬁrst corporate airport in the city, the largest promoter of the 108day mega art event after the state government. “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.” IANS Washington D 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 IANS New Delhi T 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’ time.” 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 jail. 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 Sharma. 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 the ﬁrst interest p a y - Eight-year-old girl raped, murdered Agencies Bengaluru P 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.” Numerous 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 said. 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. 14 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 LATIN AMERICA LAW AND ORDER CRIME DECISION VIOLENCE INVESTIGATION 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 R 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 authorities. 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 Reuters Washington T 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 confrontation. 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 AFP Mexico City M 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 Acapulco. 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 host. 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 Reuters Buenos Aires A Relatives of some of the 43 trainee teachers who disappeared four months ago, hold a demonstration in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. rgentine investigators 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 bombing. “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 15 PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN APPEAL CRIME LAUNCH REFORM FUNDS 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 Internews Islamabad P 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 Party. 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 month. 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 chief. 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 chairman. Nasir who is going to retire on March 11 is a candidate for another six years term of senate and is lobbying for the chairmanship. 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 senator. 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 DPA Islamabad Suspected Taliban fighters arrested A 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 named. 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 Internews Karachi 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’ Internews Quetta Q 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. N adeem Mandviwalla, 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 website. It was also voted the ‘Best Film of 50 Years’ at the 50th Filmfare Awards, as stated on the website of the annual ceremony. 16 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 PHILIPPINES 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 AFP Manila P 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 AFP Manila P 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 reclamation work on reef Reuters Manila T 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 self-rule. 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 manhunt. 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 terrorists. 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 groups. “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 T 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 year. 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 elections. 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 added. 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 voters. 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 P900mn. 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 him. 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 Conflict. 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 reported. 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 17 SRI LANKA/BANGLADESH/NEPAL Dhaka curbs foreigners’ entry into 3 hill districts By Mizan Rahman Dhaka B 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” firebombings AFP Dhaka T 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” ﬁrebombings. 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 government. The blockade unleashed unprecedented violence with antigovernment protesters targeting buses and trucks with petrol bombs. 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 continuing. 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 administrations. Until now, foreigners needed permission only from the district administration concerned. But there was no timeframe for submitting the applications. 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 anti-poaching network AFP Colombo S 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 Colombo. 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 investment. 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 current government it- AFP Kathmandu T 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 ahead. 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 dwindling population of wild tigers yesterday agreed to establish an intelligence-sharing network to ﬁght traffickers, concluding an anti-poaching conference in Kathmandu. 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 statement. 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 poachers”. “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 Nature. 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 ground.” Mizanul Haque Chowdhury, deputy commissioner (DC) of Bandarban, said he has received the order. “Our duty is to implement the orders,” the DC said. Although tribal-Bengali 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. Passenger arrested in Nepal for smuggling gold IANS Kathmandu O fficials at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) have arrested a man who was allegedly trying to smuggle in 12kg of gold from the United Arab Emirates, immigration officials said yesterday. 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 ﬂight. 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 said. 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. 18 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 COMMENT Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed Production Editor: C P Ravindran P.O.Box 2888 Doha, Qatar [email protected] Telephone 44350478 (news), 44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery) Fax 44350474 GULF TIMES 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 Washington. 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 Seoul I 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 growth. 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 products. 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 prospects. 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 inequality. Policies aimed at increasing female labor-force participation and lowering private education spending would also help. 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 innovation. 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 entrepreneurship. 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 innovation. 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 minimal. 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 developments in Greece point to a looming showdown To Advertise [email protected] Display Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811 Classified Telephone 44466609 Fax 44418811 Subscription [email protected] 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 Paris/AFP T 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 operations. 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 prepared”. 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 ignore. “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 much.” 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 armies. 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 zone. 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 said. “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 19 COMMENT One Europe but different perceptions Threatened by deﬂation, populism and radicalism, Europe is as challenged now as it’s ever been By Dominique Moïsi Paris T 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 crossroads. 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 time. 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 determination. 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 protection. 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 agenda. 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 LEGAL HELPLINE Three-day forecast TODAY Company obligations after ownership change A company ownership’s transfer shall not affect the terms and conditions of its employees By Nizar Kochery Doha 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 resignation? 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. Partnership problem 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 arbitration 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 insurance? 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 worker. High: 26 C Low : 16 C Moderate temperature daytime with some clouds becomes relatively cold and hazy at night SUNDAY High: 27 C Low : 16 C P Cloudy MONDAY High: 26 C Low : 17 C Clear Fishermen’s forecast OFFSHORE DOHA Wind: NW-SW-SE 14-22 KT Waves: 4-7/8 & 2-4/Feet INSHORE DOHA Wind: NW-NE’LY 03-13 KT Waves: 1-2/3 Feet Around the region Abu Dhabi Baghdad Dubai Kuwait City Manama Muscat Riyadh Tehran Weather today P Cloudy Clear Clear P Cloudy Clear Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy Max/min 25/14 23/09 27/17 28/11 22/17 25/22 30/16 16/07 Weather tomorrow P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Clear Clear Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy Max/min 26/16 22/09 29/17 28/11 24/17 25/22 30/15 17/06 Weather tomorrow Clear P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy C Showers Clear Clear Clear Clear C Storms Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy Cloudy P Cloudy C S Showers P Cloudy T Storms P Cloudy C Storms P Cloudy Cloudy Max/min 16/11 17/11 34/23 -1/-3 23/12 25/18 30/24 25/18 21/12 13/09 29/26 29/16 06/00 28/21 -3/-7 21/11 05/-03 06/-1 27/20 06/-4 29/24 24/18 10/00 zPlease send your questions by e-mail to: [email protected] LEGAL SYSTEM IN QATAR 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 business. 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 merchant. 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 law. 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 provision. 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 Athens Beirut Bangkok Berlin Cairo Cape Town Colombo Dhaka Hong Kong Istanbul Jakarta Karachi London Manila Moscow New Delhi New York Paris Sao Paulo Seoul Singapore Sydney Tokyo Weather today Clear Clear P Cloudy S Showers Clear Clear T Storms Clear Clear P Cloudy T Storms Clear S Showers P Cloudy Snow C Storms P Cloudy Cloudy T Storms P Cloudy C Storms P Cloudy Clear Max/min 14/08 19/14 34/23 02/-3 24/11 27/19 32/24 24/16 20/14 11/06 30/26 28/15 06/-1 27/20 -2/-5 21/11 -4/-7 03/00 28/18 06/-3 29/24 24/15 08/00 20 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 QATAR Festival boosts sales at Souq Waqif outlets The family festival brought together street performers, puppet and musical shows T 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 countries. “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 jewellry. 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 dishes. “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 L 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 country. 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 pleasure. 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 element. 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 enjoyment. 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 distortion. Audi eyeing double digit growth in Qatar this year By Joey Aguilar Staff Reporter A 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 Qatar. 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 said. 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. Participating for four 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 H 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 manufacturers. 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 vehicle. 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 (ACC). ECONOMIC FRONT | Page 3 MARKET WATCH | Page 4 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 JOB CREATION: Page 12 GULF TIMES BUSINESS Strong US job, wage gains open door to mid-year rate hike Middle East airlines post 13% traffic growth in 2014 Reuters Istanbul M 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 Ex-Bank Asya chief confident of regaining management control 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 said. 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 months. African airlines experienced the slowest annual demand growth, up IMF seeing uncertainty about path of oil prices Reuters Washington 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 Reuters Singapore S U 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 decision. 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 shows. 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. 2 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS China gold demand slides 25% in 2014 Bloomberg Beijing C 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 Reuters Tokyo J 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 5%. “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 quarter. 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 Tokyo T 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 Reuters Beijing 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 morning. 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 M 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 said. 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 crisis. 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 3 BUSINESS Distressed Indian ﬁrm Jaiprakash shows default wave challenge Bloomberg Mumbai C 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 Rs54bn. 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 ﬁling. “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 said. 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 Reuters Beijing C 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 said. 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 years. 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.” Hyundai chief, son sell $1.1bn shares Reuters Seoul 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 30%. 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 won. China’s reserve ratio cut more help to banks than borrowers Reuters Shanghai C 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 2015. 4 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS Eurobond outlook dims as dollar risk rises on Fed Bloomberg 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 Reuters Tokyo A 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 volatility”. 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 rebound. 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 Bloomberg. 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 Bloomberg Mumbai I 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 Reuters New York T 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 added. “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 countries. “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 Bloomberg Mumbai 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 inflation. 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 available. “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 consolidation.” Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 5 BUSINESS DJIA WORLD INDICES 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 91.83 42.57 101.93 87.71 24.73 86.07 58.66 33.20 109.85 49.06 41.68 34.83 102.43 59.54 269.17 33.82 157.44 109.72 27.56 120.67 167.33 148.44 108.83 94.17 85.77 183.98 93.06 76.22 83.74 107.94 % Chg -0.57 0.27 -0.52 0.49 0.92 -0.73 3.33 0.64 0.49 2.51 -0.28 0.83 -0.20 0.63 -0.97 -0.34 -0.30 0.67 1.09 0.46 0.47 -0.11 0.01 -0.18 1.22 1.78 -0.30 0.29 0.20 0.49 3,797,549 11,298,894 3,007,651 2,654,702 8,463,539 2,365,843 10,456,695 11,967,772 2,898,873 12,451,380 4,420,133 10,362,414 3,374,894 2,911,973 918,725 10,703,546 934,184 1,483,254 9,451,804 893,076 666,894 1,360,834 1,228,061 1,504,536 1,753,903 1,386,681 1,051,850 1,772,835 1,741,646 836,794 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 1,449.00 3,824.00 179.00 4,905.00 1,843.00 231.40 993.50 2,802.00 410.10 1,125.00 1,153.00 1,964.00 228.70 137.10 405.40 938.20 867.50 1,628.00 715.00 1,187.00 1,197.00 965.50 4,912.00 2,096.00 2,967.00 269.80 484.90 3,499.50 454.30 455.80 2,250.00 2,165.00 384.00 912.00 3,028.50 1,168.00 5,575.00 5,310.00 1,620.00 1,614.00 1,375.00 214.30 7,165.00 909.30 1,217.00 545.50 481.30 2,356.00 75.81 268.90 1,302.00 338.00 3,290.00 227.70 372.40 541.00 2,456.00 2,614.00 3,044.00 620.80 990.00 700.50 265.40 1,517.50 379.70 282.70 405.60 860.00 1,190.00 1,700.00 419.70 315.50 1,909.00 1,724.00 1,130.00 1,102.00 296.40 2,905.00 1,158.00 1,797.00 1,886.00 443.00 840.00 3,628.00 450.60 1,505.00 934.90 459.70 255.45 517.50 1,031.00 537.00 4,467.00 3,042.00 1,094.00 1,079.00 702.00 1,145.50 1,628.00 1,468.00 440.90 476.50 % Chg -0.69 0.10 -1.21 -0.95 -0.49 0.22 -0.45 -1.16 -1.91 -0.53 -0.26 0.51 -1.59 0.07 0.90 0.29 -1.08 -0.12 0.00 0.68 -0.08 0.57 -0.85 -1.13 1.78 0.15 -0.10 -0.84 1.20 1.04 -0.99 -0.18 1.67 -0.65 -1.69 -0.09 -0.18 -4.32 0.50 -0.25 1.25 0.14 0.35 -0.84 -0.08 -0.46 -0.06 -0.21 0.37 0.30 -0.23 1.26 1.39 0.75 -0.32 -0.28 0.16 0.23 0.76 1.21 -1.00 -0.71 -1.28 1.13 -0.76 -0.04 1.68 -4.12 -0.34 -1.51 -1.36 -0.22 -0.39 -1.32 -1.31 0.36 0.14 -0.10 1.31 0.73 -1.26 0.23 -1.29 -1.65 0.11 -2.15 -2.08 -2.23 2.67 0.19 0.10 1.42 -1.37 0.93 1.96 -0.28 -1.27 -2.26 -0.61 0.62 2.34 -0.04 Volume 5,030,423 544,944 11,769,930 359,886 866,437 54,785,815 1,336,442 3,427,858 6,413,850 735,694 448,177 476,345 18,411,376 7,858,908 2,217,484 7,402,993 1,359,399 3,853,144 557,356 1,597,107 3,398,031 3,318,910 1,885,567 552,193 248,078 6,291,253 1,646,864 1,930,833 2,490,768 4,115,609 5,261,242 8,051,120 9,123,524 7,732,843 3,586,970 3,428,329 1,285,300 857,378 4,959,811 926,065 3,230,643 5,171,306 281,401 7,690,931 857,399 3,169,566 3,542,882 403,576 97,537,282 6,093,933 2,479,493 5,820,959 752,641 8,466,576 2,269,106 9,967,259 410,555 1,468,659 2,408,990 18,357,507 1,222,486 2,595,339 30,289,443 11,597,209 3,947,041 2,902,168 5,451,636 1,377,585 1,609,636 2,099,711 3,037,038 2,861,152 3,069,371 5,566,271 5,169,699 625,217 19,271,134 424,879 1,927,701 1,017,430 825,377 17,136,710 3,826,256 2,785,244 33,088,179 6,127,341 8,881,043 4,177,780 50,784,710 13,564,689 939,921 6,927,053 3,504,394 733,694 2,330,393 2,620,415 2,054,422 4,470,424 829,451 549,167 5,011,009 1,361,384 TOKYO Company Name Inpex Corp Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd Sekisui House Ltd Kirin Holdings Co Ltd Japan Tobacco Inc Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd Toray Industries Inc Asahi Kasei Corp Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Kao Corp Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd Astellas Pharma Inc Eisai Co Ltd Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd Fujifilm Holdings Corp Shiseido Co Ltd Jx Holdings Inc Lt Price 1,372.50 2,216.50 1,521.00 1,593.50 3,384.50 4,406.50 987.70 1,160.00 512.00 7,905.00 608.30 5,091.00 5,864.00 1,820.00 5,991.00 1,785.00 3,981.00 1,917.00 473.20 % Chg 0.88 2.62 1.40 0.41 -0.12 -0.17 2.32 2.25 0.20 0.82 -1.33 1.19 -0.24 1.82 1.46 0.71 0.49 2.71 3.95 Indices Volume Volume 5,432,400 1,581,600 4,042,200 2,217,500 7,875,900 1,838,600 13,109,000 7,130,000 9,266,000 838,800 6,815,400 1,944,400 2,721,300 6,270,600 1,517,500 2,815,400 2,251,400 2,762,400 19,219,000 Lt Price Change Dow Jones Indus. Avg S&P 500 Index Nasdaq Composite Index S&P/Tsx Composite Index Mexico Bolsa Index Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx Ftse 100 Index Cac 40 Index Dax Index Ibex 35 Tr 17,928.89 2,070.32 4,783.75 15,152.28 42,694.65 48,601.87 6,853.44 4,691.03 10,846.39 10,573.10 +44.01 +7.80 +18.65 +27.36 +241.01 -631.98 -12.49 -12.27 -59.02 +37.60 Nikkei 225 Japan Topix Hang Seng Index All Ordinaries Indx Nzx All Index Bse Sensex 30 Index Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index Straits Times Index Karachi All Share Index Jakarta Composite Index 17,648.50 1,417.19 24,679.39 5,774.67 1,163.56 28,717.91 8,661.05 3,431.36 24,887.01 5,342.52 +143.88 +7.08 -86.10 +9.21 +2.44 -133.06 -50.65 +24.78 -37.32 +62.62 TOKYO Company Name Bridgestone Corp Asahi Glass Co Ltd Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta Sumitomo Metal Industries Kobe Steel Ltd Jfe Holdings Inc Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd Sumitomo Electric Industries Smc Corp Komatsu Ltd Kubota Corp Daikin Industries Ltd Hitachi Ltd Toshiba Corp Mitsubishi Electric Corp Nidec Corp Nec Corp Fujitsu Ltd Panasonic Corp Sharp Corp Sony Corp Tdk Corp Keyence Corp Denso Corp Fanuc Corp Rohm Co Ltd Kyocera Corp Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd Nitto Denko Corp Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nissan Motor Co Ltd Toyota Motor Corp Honda Motor Co Ltd Suzuki Motor Corp Nikon Corp Hoya Corp Canon Inc Ricoh Co Ltd Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd Nintendo Co Ltd Itochu Corp Marubeni Corp Mitsui & Co Ltd Tokyo Electron Ltd Sumitomo Corp Mitsubishi Corp Aeon Co Ltd Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro Resona Holdings Inc Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The Mizuho Financial Group Inc Orix Corp Daiwa Securities Group Inc Nomura Holdings Inc Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Tokio Marine Holdings Inc T&D Holdings Inc Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd Sumitomo Realty & Developmen East Japan Railway Co West Japan Railway Co Central Japan Railway Co Ana Holdings Inc Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Kddi Corp Ntt Docomo Inc Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc Chubu Electric Power Co Inc Kansai Electric Power Co Inc Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc Tokyo Gas Co Ltd Secom Co Ltd Yamada Denki Co Ltd Fast Retailing Co Ltd Softbank Corp Lt Price 4,482.50 637.00 293.30 0.00 212.00 2,662.00 1,778.50 1,408.00 31,645.00 2,413.50 1,700.50 8,018.00 787.30 476.40 1,317.50 8,113.00 330.00 730.40 1,323.00 228.00 3,138.50 7,660.00 57,260.00 5,411.00 20,020.00 7,060.00 5,394.00 12,800.00 7,307.00 617.00 1,049.50 7,623.00 3,784.00 3,439.50 1,467.00 4,499.00 3,716.00 1,108.50 1,083.50 11,770.00 1,242.50 688.00 1,579.00 8,398.00 1,215.50 2,209.00 1,278.00 671.80 622.00 436.30 4,129.50 676.30 197.90 1,472.00 847.70 640.00 3,240.00 2,924.50 1,657.00 4,039.00 1,390.00 3,137.50 2,536.00 3,967.50 9,277.00 6,314.00 19,645.00 317.50 6,874.00 7,708.00 1,980.00 471.00 1,463.50 1,073.00 1,455.00 1,069.00 710.50 7,015.00 426.00 44,005.00 7,100.00 % Chg -0.51 0.79 1.98 0.00 1.44 3.34 0.91 -0.95 0.56 1.03 -1.31 0.19 0.81 0.02 0.76 0.30 1.85 -1.54 1.57 0.00 1.19 0.00 -1.11 0.54 1.21 -1.26 2.22 -2.55 0.12 -0.02 1.21 -0.41 1.20 -5.83 -5.48 -0.97 1.28 0.14 0.05 4.25 -1.62 0.97 0.38 2.08 -0.57 -0.90 -0.78 2.27 2.93 0.00 2.11 1.21 1.28 3.37 0.07 2.29 -1.32 -0.93 -0.72 -1.46 -0.96 2.72 4.45 2.99 -0.45 -1.61 -0.68 0.60 -2.90 0.50 -0.68 0.21 0.31 0.23 -2.15 -0.56 1.89 1.23 -4.05 1.22 1.54 Volume 2,973,800 5,303,000 35,809,000 24,298,000 3,696,700 2,359,000 9,123,000 99,100 3,374,900 5,210,000 1,363,200 51,174,000 15,788,000 6,340,000 1,244,800 22,246,000 17,110,000 7,941,700 18,901,000 26,280,100 658,500 169,500 1,026,400 728,600 1,260,600 1,322,500 1,136,800 989,200 17,899,000 8,876,900 6,976,300 6,657,200 4,722,300 15,814,200 1,363,400 4,185,600 4,997,200 1,857,000 1,542,400 8,921,000 13,002,000 12,876,200 768,200 6,480,200 7,176,900 3,757,000 66,018,500 23,467,800 31,158,000 10,038,600 6,650,000 136,370,400 13,564,500 9,611,000 42,025,400 1,541,300 1,147,800 4,911,000 3,289,300 2,927,900 6,567,000 10,425,000 3,261,000 1,248,200 915,700 485,900 12,179,000 3,786,300 2,175,900 5,594,200 10,519,000 1,355,100 2,239,500 2,214,100 3,132,500 9,658,000 514,700 6,585,200 354,300 9,965,800 SENSEX Company Name Zee Entertainment Enterprise Wipro Ltd Ultratech Cement Ltd Tech Mahindra Ltd Tata Steel Ltd Tata Power Co Ltd Tata Motors Ltd Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd Sun Pharmaceutical Indus State Bank Of India Sesa Sterlite Ltd Reliance Industries Ltd Punjab National Bank Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd Ntpc Ltd Nmdc Ltd Maruti Suzuki India Ltd Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Lupin Ltd Larsen & Toubro Ltd Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd Jindal Steel & Power Ltd Itc Ltd Infosys Ltd Indusind Bank Ltd Idfc Ltd Icici Bank Ltd Housing Development Finance Hindustan Unilever Ltd Hindalco Industries Ltd Hero Motocorp Ltd Hdfc Bank Limited Hcl Technologies Ltd Grasim Industries Ltd Gail India Ltd Dr. 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 361.55 643.25 3,008.35 2,860.35 368.65 82.10 559.60 2,575.75 926.85 290.30 210.60 909.90 170.45 143.45 351.00 140.00 141.05 3,502.60 1,149.75 1,567.70 1,683.55 1,266.90 142.05 373.50 2,230.50 845.30 165.80 329.35 1,280.55 905.75 147.30 2,776.30 1,053.50 1,954.70 3,805.00 419.50 3,044.30 163.45 364.00 655.05 254.10 368.25 730.95 264.15 175.95 2,223.30 563.15 797.65 248.25 1,507.20 % Chg 0.25 0.78 -1.82 -0.26 -2.79 -1.44 -5.02 0.91 -3.41 -0.17 1.35 -1.49 -0.55 -0.14 -1.58 -0.11 2.03 -0.57 -2.54 -0.67 0.07 -1.63 -2.90 1.25 1.67 -2.32 -0.54 -1.86 2.74 -0.36 -0.51 -2.49 -2.14 -0.91 -2.12 -1.04 -0.90 -3.51 -1.60 -1.11 2.87 0.97 -2.54 -4.59 -0.90 -0.98 -0.49 -1.63 0.28 0.18 Volume 3,253,853 2,307,032 136,684 475,328 5,426,228 7,032,232 12,985,473 1,138,700 3,253,215 18,315,689 3,826,454 2,369,882 7,251,057 1,465,912 4,268,215 5,251,218 5,132,403 218,703 2,162,343 265,107 1,623,420 646,994 5,532,874 5,182,691 1,984,925 533,572 5,927,793 17,258,143 2,890,213 801,197 5,888,059 610,892 2,025,783 1,130,530 100,159 1,896,076 266,910 11,635,303 4,019,208 1,783,683 3,909,655 3,132,181 1,622,463 4,829,158 11,088,300 315,124 8,641,513 1,903,077 930,454 303,238 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 AFP London B 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 Brieﬁng.com analyst Patrick O’Hare. 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 HONG KONG HONG KONG Company Name Aluminum Corp Of China Ltd-H Bank Of East Asia Bank Of China Ltd-H Bank Of Communications Co-H Belle International Holdings Boc Hong Kong Holdings Ltd Cathay Pacific Airways Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd China Coal Energy Co-H China Construction Bank-H China Life Insurance Co-H China Merchants Hldgs Intl China Mobile Ltd China Overseas Land & Invest China Petroleum & Chemical-H China Resources Enterprise China Resources Land Ltd China Resources Power Holdin China Shenhua Energy Co-H China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd Citic Ltd Clp Holdings Ltd Cnooc Ltd Cosco Pacific Ltd Esprit Holdings Ltd Fih Mobile Ltd Hang Lung Properties Ltd Hang Seng Bank Ltd Henderson Land Development 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 11.3%. Eurozone ﬁnance ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, with Berlin saying it expects Greece to put its plans on the table. 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 3.44 32.20 4.33 6.43 8.65 27.20 17.36 150.10 4.17 6.31 30.75 28.25 105.90 22.95 6.13 16.50 20.35 19.72 20.55 12.78 13.18 67.70 10.98 11.04 8.51 3.54 22.45 143.70 54.70 % Chg -1.99 0.00 -1.59 -0.46 -1.93 0.93 -0.46 2.46 -2.57 -1.25 -0.97 0.18 -2.22 -3.16 -0.97 -0.24 -0.25 -1.40 -1.67 -0.78 -1.05 0.30 1.10 -1.08 3.65 0.85 0.45 -0.83 -0.55 Volume 21,475,875 734,659 263,306,387 33,719,672 18,456,423 10,045,661 3,037,755 6,082,716 22,346,955 161,483,169 23,986,650 2,473,772 21,458,737 24,847,379 116,974,006 2,014,816 12,384,410 13,855,529 20,375,335 59,145,640 6,507,073 1,555,747 69,379,087 2,713,372 4,816,479 2,318,152 3,150,694 1,423,538 1,499,388 Company Name Hong Kong & China Gas Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear Hsbc Holdings Plc Hutchison Whampoa Ltd Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H Li & Fung Ltd Mtr Corp New World Development Petrochina Co Ltd-H Ping An Insurance Group Co-H Power Assets Holdings Ltd Sino Land Co Sun Hung Kai Properties Swire Pacific Ltd-A Tencent Holdings Ltd Wharf Holdings Ltd Lt Price 17.44 177.70 72.85 104.50 5.61 7.46 34.40 9.34 8.57 81.90 79.00 12.70 124.80 105.60 134.20 61.45 % Chg -0.23 -0.17 0.90 1.95 -1.06 0.81 0.15 -0.21 0.12 -1.33 -2.11 0.00 0.32 0.86 -0.74 -0.81 Volume 5,592,648 1,607,862 11,090,193 7,958,529 257,901,256 10,426,395 1,234,632 14,577,907 65,523,271 19,564,572 3,936,707 2,394,046 2,333,203 871,470 10,914,852 2,095,604 GCC INDICES Indices Doha Securities Market Saudi Tadawul Kuwait Stocks Exchange Bahrain Stock Exchage Oman Stock Market Abudhabi Stock Market Dubai Financial Market Lt Price 12,520.66 9,180.11 6,700.06 1,435.94 6,687.76 4,608.56 3,886.53 Change +104.73 +10.91 -8.34 +2.84 -36.34 -40.39 +37.09 “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.” CURRENCIES DOLLAR QATAR RIYAL SAUDI RIYAL UAE DIRHAMS BAHRAINI DINAR KUWAITI DINAR 6 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS/LEISURE Adam Family money puts its faith in Europe technology companies Reuters London S Pooch Cafe Garfield 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 money. 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) 11.30pm. 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 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 repeated. Weekly’s Solutions ACROSS 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 (7) 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 services. “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 DOWN 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 (6) ACROSS 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) DOWN 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 QUICK 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 Defenceless. 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. CRYPTIC 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. 8 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS Verizon to sell wireline operations, cell phone towers worth $15.6bn Reuters San Francisco V 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 connections. “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 Reuters Frankfurt S 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 conditions. 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 Salesforce.com 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 9 BUSINESS Corporate America feels pain as recovery lifts households Bloomberg Washington C 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 growth.” 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 do. “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 Bloomberg London G 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 full. 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 miners. 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 operates. The RBA’s main function is to control Woodford to launch investment trust Reuters London B 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 0.37%. 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 services. 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 increases. 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 2014. 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 transportation. 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 Woodford announced 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 strategy. “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 time.” 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. Annabel Brodie-Smith, 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.” 10 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS CORPORATE RESULTS 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 earlier. 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. Twitter 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 markets. 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 quarter. 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. GoPro 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 camera. Yelp 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 Yelp.com, 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 users. 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 share. 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 Exchange. 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 demand”. 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 dollar. 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 $750mn. 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 China. 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 earlier. 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 products. GrubHub 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. Amazon.com 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. Alcatel-Lucent 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 finances. Statoil 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 year. “Statoil’s quarterly earnings were affected by the sharp drop in oil prices,” the group’s new chief executive Eldar Saetre said in a statement. 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 11 BUSINESS ECB’s bond buying plans ripple across US markets Bloomberg New York E 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 bonds.” Danish rate cut unlikely to ease upward pressure 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 0.2%. 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 Bloomberg New York P 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.” Reuters London A 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 London 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 qualities.” 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 decade? Andy Home is a columnist for Reuters. The opinions expressed are his own. Saturday, February 7, 2015 BUSINESS GULF TIMES QSE WEEKLY REVIEW 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 China. 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 term. “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 29. 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 transactions. 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 Reuters Washington U 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 deals. The market saw a total of 3.57mn consumer goods stocks worth QR158.04mn change hands across 2,317 deals. 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 AFP Athens G 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. The Greek government 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 AFP Rio de Janeiro S 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 improved Scotland 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 CRICKET Clarke’s World Cup fitness race turns into a jog GULF TIMES SPORT Page 6 SPOTLIGHT Blatter warns over imported team AFP Zurich F 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. QATAR INTERNATIONAL RALLY 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 Doha N 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 team.” 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 election. “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 match-fixing AFP Paris complained that the car was pulling to the right. All 12 cars reached the stage ﬁnish. 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 26.4sec 3. Khalid al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC 1hr 07min 20.3sec 4. Abdulaziz al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 08min 09.3sec 5. Ali Mesgarha (IRN)/Vahidreza Vahdatinikzad (IRN) Subaru Impreza 1hr 28min 45.7sec F 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 wagered. 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 accused. “They are dealing with this situation very badly,” the Karabatic brothers’ lawyer Jean-Robert Phung told I-Tele, a French news television channel. “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. 2 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 SPORT QATAR STARS LEAGUE 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 Doha L 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 minute. 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 Results 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). SALAL EMBARRASS SHAMAL 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 minute. 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 Cvetkovic 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. 2015 AL KASS INTERNATIONAL CUP Aspire Academy hit Kobe for six, PSG beat Atletico By Sports Reporter Doha A spire Academy romped an emphatic victory on Friday evening, hitting Vissel Kobe for six and delivering a resounding statement of intent in the process. 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 alive. 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 ease. 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 play. Despite recording 68% possession, Vissel had managed just a single shot on target, while Aspire had converted Results Yesterday PSG 3-1 Atletico Madrid Vissel Kobe 1-6 Aspire Academy Real Madrid 4-1 Schalke 04 Thursday 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 effort. 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 corner. 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 ﬁve. 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 3 FOOTBALL MAJOR BLOW TOO HARSH TORN HAMSTRING EXTENSION SPOTLIGHT 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 Tuesday. “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. ITALIAN LEAGUE Juve host ailing Milan as Napoli pile pressure on Roma AFP Rome ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE 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’ AFP London C hampions Juventus 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 place. 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 winner. 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 Roma. 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 side.” 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. Fixtures (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 T he battle for Champions League qualiﬁcation 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 weeks. 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 newspaper. “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 result.” 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 them. 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 interest.” 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 ﬁxtures. 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. Fixtures (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated): 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 GMT) SPOTLIGHT ‘Zidane could be future Real coach’ AFP Madrid Z 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 conference. “I enjoy Zidane’s work, he’s doing very well,” Ancelotti said. 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 months. 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 debut. 4 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 FOOTBALL FRENCH LEAGUE 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’ AFP Paris C 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 Results (all times are 1900GMT unless stated) 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 goals). 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 AFRICAN NATIONS CUP 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 Friday. 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. SPANISH LEAGUE Grant praises Ghana Ronaldo returns for depleted Real in Madrid derby mentality after testing semi-final AFP Madrid W Reuters Malabo G 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 Thursday. 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 lose. “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 yesterday. 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. Ronaldo completed his 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 Wednesday. 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 Ancelotti. “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 from their heartbreaking 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 Uruguayan. “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 process. 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 today. Sevilla make their second trip to the capital in ﬁve days as they travel to Getafe, whilst Valencia are away to Espanyol tomorrow. Fixtures 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 (2000) Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 5 CRICKET SPOTLIGHT FOCUS Anti-corruption chief likens match-fixers to paedophiles Sir Ronnie Flanagan promises a World Cup free of corruption Agencies Karachi A 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 reporters. 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 said. 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 TheGuardian.com S 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 Khan. ICC APPROVES RAHAT’S INDUCTION IN SQUAD 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 incident. “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. BOTTOMLINE No Tendulkar in Team India gives Pakistan World Cup hope AFP New Delhi I 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 event. 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 Council. 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. 6 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 CRICKET UPDATE FOCUS Clarke’s World Cup fitness race turns into a jog ‘I’m extremely thankful and grateful that I sit in this position now’ Reuters Sydney B 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 AFP London N 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 Middlesex. 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 ancestry. 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 years. “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. SPOTLIGHT Michael Clarke batted, bowled and fielded in an outing for a Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane on Thursday. BOTTOMLINE Ireland lose to Sydney club in WCup warm-up Lee hoping for pace-fest Down Under Reuters Mumbai F 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 Under. “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 few.” England, South Africa, New Zealand and India also had the variety in bowling to succeed at the tournament, according to the right-arm paceman. 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. AFP Sydney G 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. iantkillers Ireland 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 job. 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 7 SPORT NBA 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’ DPA Los Angeles T 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 Clippers. “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 said. 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. Results 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. Washington...........87 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 terrible. “Nobody said anything. We SPOTLIGHT Orlando Magic fire head coach Jacque Vaughn By Josh Robbins and Brian Schmitz Orlando Sentinel T 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 basketballreference.com. 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 Spurs. 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. This season, however, 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 Miller 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 Twitter. 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 her.” 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 grow.” 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 94-87. 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. NHL Clutterbuck, Halak star in shootout as Islanders top Flyers By Arthur Staple Newsday W 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 1:59. 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. Results St. Louis ...................3 NY Islanders ........3 Washington .........2 Florida .......................3 Anaheim .................5 Tampa Bay ...........5 Detroit........................3 Carolina....................2 San Jose ..................5 Buffalo......................0 Philadelphia ....... 2 Ottawa .......................1 Los Angeles ....... 2 Nashville ................ 2 Dallas .........................3 Colorado ...............0 Arizona......................1 Vancouver .............1 8 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 SPORT GOLF SPOTLIGHT 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 Reuters Kuala Lumpur S 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 AFP La Jolla T 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 Tringale. 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 rounds. TENNIS Sharapova targets Olympics as Russia tackle Poland AFP Krakow M aria Sharapova 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 record. 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 135. 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 Bouchard. 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 yesterday. 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 water. “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 fourth. 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 place. LPGA Pancake leads rain-hit Bahamas LPGA Classic AFP Paradise Island B 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 fog. Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 9 SPORT SPOTLIGHT Sepang Circuit: From white elephant to success story By Joe Koraith Doha M 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 success. 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 Singapore? 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. FORMULA ONE FOCUS Marussia’s bid to use old car opposed Marussia application to race with old car rejected; Force India say request was ‘speculative’ Reuters London M 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 newspaper. 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 AFP Kuala Lumpur W orld champion Marc Marquez 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 said. 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 tests. 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. SAIL THE GULF 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. 10 Gulf Times Saturday, February 7, 2015 RUGBY WORLD SERIES New Zealand, Fiji shine in Wellington Sevens AFP Wellington N 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 PREVIEW I taly hope to forget their disastrous 2014 when they host defending Six Nations champions Ireland in their tournament opener today. 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. SIX NATIONS Italy seek redemption against Ireland AFP Rome 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’ AFP Paris S 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 French. 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 either. 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 pressure. “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. SPOTLIGHT Pau lifestyle, family sway Conrad Smith to France AFP Paris A 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 rivals. 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 said. “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 futures. “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 Hansen. “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 11 SPORT SPOTLIGHT 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 Doha D 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. 2015 UIM QATAR CUP Kuwait’s Ahmed al-Dawas claims victory By Sports Reporter Doha K 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 afternoon. 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) TODAY’S SCHEDULE 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 SPORT GULF TIMES 7TH LADIES TOUR OF QATAR 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 Doha E 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 victory. Hosking also acknowledged Armitstead ﬁne efforts during the four-day tour. “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 RESULTS GENERAL CLASSIFICATION 1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 9:59:25 2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 0:00:12 3 Ellen Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:00:22 4 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM 0:00:29 5 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 0:00:30 6 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 0:02:26 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 STAGE FOUR 1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 15pts| 2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 12 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 POINTS CLASSIFICATION 1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 50pts 2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 43 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 SPRINT ONE 1 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 3pts 2 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 2 3 Emma Johansson (Swe) Orica-AIS 1 came a headwind.” Armitstead also conquers the silver SPRINT TWO 1 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 3pts 2 Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 2 3 Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team YOUNG RIDER CLASSIFICATION 1 Beatrice Bartelloni (Ita) Ale Cipollini 10:02:13 2 Elena Cecchini (Ita) Italy 0:08:53 3 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Ale Cipollini 4 Soline Lamboley (Fra) France 0:09:13 5 Yue Bai (Chn) China Chongming-LivChampion System Pro Cycling 0:11:09 TEAM CLASSIFICATION 1 Wiggle Honda 30:02:00 2 Orica-AIS 0:02:04 3 Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:09:03 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.” RADICAL MIDDLE EAST CUP 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 Doha O 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 yesterday. 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.