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SPORT | Page 1
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Vol. XXXV No. 9623
February 4, 2015
Rabia II 15, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
Preparations in full swing for Sport Day
Kerry praises
Qatar’s help in
efforts to end
Yemen crisis
PALESTINE | Occupation
War crimes probe
report in March
A UN inquiry into possible war
crimes in the Gaza conflict will
produce its report on time next
month despite the resignation
of its chairman, officials said in
Geneva yesterday, brushing aside
a demand from Israel’s prime
minister to shelve it. Canadian
academic William Schabas, the
head of a UN inquiry into last
summer’s war between Israel and
Gaza, said on Monday he would
resign after Israeli allegations of
bias due to consultancy work he
did for the Palestine Liberation
Organisation. Page 13
EUROPE | Rulings
UN court rejects
genocide claims
The UN’s highest court yesterday
rejected rival claims of genocide
by Croatia and Serbia in landmark
rulings over their 1991-1995 war,
and urged the former foes to turn
the page on their bloody history.
International Court of Justice chief
judge Peter Tomka first dismissed
Zagreb’s claim that Serb forces
committed genocide during
Croatia’s war of independence. He
made a similar ruling in a counterclaim by Belgrade over a Croatian
counter-offensive that forced
200,000 Serbs to flee after the last
major battle of the war. Page 23
A view of The National Sport Day Village set up by the Qatar Olympic Committee on the Corniche last night. The facility will be formally declared open today as Qatar
prepares to celebrate its annual sporting gala next Tuesday with a wide range of activities with the aim of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. HE the Minister of
Youth and Sports Salah bin Ghanim al-Ali has called for a better understanding of the real goal of the Sport Day so that the goal of the Emiri Decree No (80) of 2011 can
be attained. Page 8 PICTURE: Jayaram
IS burns pilot to death
as Jordan vows revenge
An Iraqi would-be suicide bomber
on death row, Sajida al-Rishawi,
and other militants will be
executed at dawn today, according
to a Jordanian security official
he Islamic State (IS) group yesterday released a video purportedly showing a Jordanian pilot
being burned alive in a cage, in its most
brutal execution yet of a foreign hostage.
The highly choreographed 22-minute
video released online showed images of
a man purported to be First Lieutenant
Maaz al-Kassasbeh, captured in December, engulfed in flames.
King Abdullah cut short a visit to
Washington to fly home, state television said, as Amman confirmed the
death of the 26-year-old fighter pilot
and vowed an “earth-shattering response”.
In a short televised appearance, King
Abdullah said the killing of Kassasbeh
was an act of cowardly terror by a group
that had nothing to do with Islam.
“This (is) cowardly terror by a criminal group that has no relation to Islam
... It’s the duty of all citizens to stand
together,” he said.
The video, whose authenticity was
not immediately verified, enraged officials and the army in Jordan vowed to
avenge the murder of the 26-year-old
A security official said an Iraqi
would-be suicide bomber on death
row, Sajida al-Rishawi, and other mili-
tants will be executed at dawn today.
“The death sentence will be carried
out on a group of jihadists, starting
with Rishawi, as well as Iraqi Al Qaeda
operative Ziad Karbuli and others who
attacked Jordan’s interests,” said the
State television said Kassasbeh had
already been killed on January 3, before IS offered to spare his life and free a
Japanese journalist in return for Rishawi’s release.
US President Barack Obama denounced the apparent killing as “just
one more indication of the viciousness
(and) barbarity” of IS.
The US will “redouble the vigilance
and determination on the part of the
global coalition to make sure” the group
is “ultimately defeated”, he added.
The chief of the US-led war on IS,
General Lloyd Austin, condemned the
pilot’s murder as “savage” and vowed
to “fight this barbaric enemy until it is
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the “sickening murder will
only strengthen our resolve to defeat
ISIL”, another acronym for IS.
Kassasbeh was captured on December 24 after his F-16 jet crashed during
a mission over northern Syria as part of
the US-led campaign against the militant group.
The video released yesterday shows
footage of him at a table recounting
coalition operations against IS, with
flags from the various Western and
Arab countries in the alliance projected
in the background.
It then shows Kassasbeh dressed in
an orange jumpsuit and surrounded by
armed and masked IS fighters in camouflage.
Anwar Tarawneh, the wife of
Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh,
holding a picture of him.
It cuts to him standing inside the
cage and apparently soaked in petrol
before a masked man uses a torch to
light a trail of flame that runs to the
cage and burns him alive.
The video also offered rewards
for the killing of other “crusader”
The release of the video of Kassasbeh’s purported murder came after IS
beheaded two Japanese hostages within
a week.
The Islamic State group had vowed
to kill the second Japanese, Kenji Goto,
and Kassasbeh by sunset on January 29
unless Amman handed over Rishawi.
Kassasbeh’s plane was the first loss
of an aircraft since the US-led coalition
launched strikes against IS last year.
IS seized swathes of territory in
Iraq and Syria last year, declaring a
“caliphate” and committing a wave of
The extremist group claimed in a
video released on Saturday that it had
killed 47-year-old Goto, after previously murdering another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
It had initially demanded a $200mn
ransom for the Japanese hostages - the
same amount Tokyo had promised in
non-military aid to countries affected
by IS.
IS had previously beheaded two US
journalists, an American aid worker
and two British aid workers in similar
Shiraz Maher, from the International
Centre for the Study of Radicalisation
at King’s College London, described
the footage as “simply the most horrific, disgusting thing I have seen from
Islamic State in the last two years”.
Qatar condemns ‘heinous crime’
The State of Qatar has strongly condemned
the burning to death of Jordanian pilot
Maaz al-Kassasbeh by a terrorist group. In
a statement issued yesterday, the Foreign
Ministry denounced the “heinous crime”,
terming it as a “criminal act contravening
the tolerant principles of the Islamic faith,
human values and international laws and
norms”. The Foreign Ministry expressed
deep regret for the pilot’s killing and
expressed condolences to the pilot’s family.
It also expressed the solidarity of the State
of Qatar with the brotherly Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan and its people.
S Secretary of State John Kerry
has praised Qatar for its help
in trying to resolve the crisis in
The Houthi militia on Sunday had set
a three-day deadline for political parties
to resolve the power vacuum in Yemen
left after the president and prime minister offered to resign last month.
The Houthis’ lightning offensive when
they seized the presidential palace and
key government buildings on January
20, plunged the country deeper into crisis and prompted President Abd Rabbu
Mansour Hadi and his premier to tender
their resignations.
It has complicated the US fight
against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) branded by the US one of Al
Qaeda’s most dangerous branches.
Meeting with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, at the State Department on Monday,
Kerry said he was grateful for the “many
ways in which Qatar, the Emir, and Dr
Attiyah have made themselves available
in order to be of assistance”.
“Most recently, they were particularly
helpful with respect to Yemen and our
efforts in the last few days to deal with
some of the adjustments necessary to
what has been happening there.”
Asked later at a forum at the Atlantic
magazine what Kerry meant, al-Attiyah
did not go into details.
“We’ve been closely talking to our
friends about the GCC initiative and how
we can enhance the solution,” the minister said.
assurance on 2022
tournament dates
Beaver Creek
orld Cup chiefs have promised the 2022 tournament
in Qatar will not clash with
that year’s Winter Olympics, International Olympic Committee (IOC)
president Thomas Bach said yesterday.
World governing body FIFA has said
the 2022 tournament will take place
during the cooler temperatures of the
northern hemisphere’s winter months
- potentially risking a calendar clash
with the Winter Olympics.
FIFA has yet to agree on dates for the
2022 finals.
Football’s governing body is studying the possibility of staging the tournament either in November-December
or January-February.
However, Bach told reporters on
the sidelines of the World Alpine Ski
Championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado, that FIFA chief Sepp Blatter had
assured the IOC there would be no
clash with the Winter games.
Qatar ‘to see 218% increase in cancer cases by 2030’
By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter
ancer cases in Qatar may increase by up to 218% by 2030,
warns a study by an international organisation for cancer research.
According to a report titled “Globocan 2012, Cancer Incidence Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide” by
the International Agency for Cancer
Research, the total number of cancer
cases in Qatar was 1,017 in 2012. At the
prevailing rates, it is forecast that the
number will go up to 3,235 by 2030.
World Innovation Summit for Health
(WISH), an initiative of Qatar Foundation, has conducted a study on making
the treatment of the disease affordable
and present its findings at the WISH
summit slated for February 17 and 18 at
Qatar National Convention Centre.
The “Delivering Affordable Cancer
Care” report reveals that there were
13.3mn new cases of cancer globally in
2010 and the number is projected to
rise to 21.5mn in 2030. It is estimated
that from 2008 to 2030, cancer incidence will rise by 65 % in high-income
countries, 80% in middle-income
countries, and 100% in the world’s
poorest countries.
The report says that worldwide
spending on cancer has reached equivalent to the GDP of Hong Kong. Cancer
is responsible for 5–7 % of healthcare
costs in high-income countries and
reached approximately $290bn per year
in 2010. The report says that cancer is
the second largest contributor to the
non-communicable disease burden.
Some of the early findings of the report have been released to mark World
Cancer Day which is observed today.
The WISH report will highlight that
health economies worldwide are expecting increases of 16–32 % in new
cancer diagnoses over the next 10 years
and projections from the US, United
Kingdom and Australia suggest that
cancer costs in these countries could
increase by as much as 42–66 % above
current levels by 2025.
The report will present evidence that
in many cases, cancer could be treated
very differently and that there are too
many instances of over-treatment and
needless use of expensive technology. It
will highlight innovative projects from
around the world that have driven efficiencies and improved treatments for
Prof Robert J S Thomas, WISH Forum Chair, said: “Our aim is to develop
a plan to encourage governments, policymakers and large healthcare organisations to take up and recognise the
problem of affordability. It is a really
key issue for patients at all levels and it
is a key issue for governments. What we
want is a plan which will help patients
in the long term.”
Prof the Lord Darzi of Denham, executive chair of WISH, said: “The challenge of cancer is daunting and it will
intensify. This report brings together
the greatest minds in the field of cancer care to deliver valuable insight that
will help policymakers and healthcare
professionals find solutions to address
the significant cost and health consequences of this unforgiving disease.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Qatar-Oman defence ties reviewed Indian security
adviser meets
Oman’s Chief of Staff of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF)
Lt Gen Ahmed bin Harith al-Nabhani yesterday met a
Qatari envoy
delegation from Qatar’s College of Staff and Command
(CSC) headed by Air Commodore Nassir Abdullah Nassir
The Omani chief of staff welcomed the members of the
Qatari delegation and discussed issues of mutual concern,
particularly in the field of training and academic military
co-operation between the two countries. Commandant of
Oman’s College of Staff and Command, Air Commodore
Nasser bin Hamdoon al-Harthy, attended the meeting.
Foreign Minister meets John Kerry
The National Security Adviser
of India Ajit Kumar Doval has
met Qatar’s Ambassador Ahmad
Ibrahim al-Abdullah in New Delhi.
Talks during the meeting covered
bilateral relations and ways of
enhancing them in all areas.
Chief of Staff
meets senior
British official
HE the Chief of Staff of the
Armed Forces Air Vice-Marshal
Ghanim bin Shaheen al-Ghanim
met Lt Gen Tom Beckett, senior
defence adviser for Middle East
at the UK Ministry of Defence,
and the delegation currently
accompanying him on a visit to
The meeting reviewed issues of
mutual concern, particularly in
the military affairs.
A number of senior army officers
attended the meeting.
Armed forces
HE the Foreign Minister Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington
on Monday. The meeting was attended by Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani and Qatar’s Ambassador to the US
Mohamed bin Jaham al-Kuwari. Bilateral relations and regional issues were reviewed.
S Korea keen on expanding
bilateral relations with Qatar
outh Korea is keen to
expand bilateral relations with Qatar in all
areas, South Korea’s first
Vice-Minister of Foreign
Affairs Cho Tae-yong has
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Diplomatic
Institute at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Cho Taeyong said: “Qatar has been
blessed with a leader who
is seriously planning for the
future, we were very impressed by him when he visited Korea for talks.”
HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
visited Seoul last November.
Speaking about bilateral
relations and co-operation
between the two countries,
he said that previous meetings between senior Qatari
and Korean officials confirm the keenness of the two
sides to move forward with
the mutual co-operation
and promoting it in all areas.
He noted that Qatar ranks
first among the exporters of
South Korea, as the country imports about 40% of
its need for gas from Qatar.
Despite the signing of three
gas supply agreements with
Australia, Qatar still occupies the first rank, he said.
The official added that
Korea seeks to diversify
transactions with Qatar
in various areas including
services, defence and development of e-government,
and Korea has high reputation in this area specifically.
The seminar organised
by the Diplomatic Institute
was titled: “Policy of the
Republic of South Korea in
the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula”.
The seminar was attended by a number of the
Foreign Ministry diplomats
and staff as well as the delegation accompanying the
Korean official.
The general command of the
armed forces has announced
that it will carry out parachuting
exercises in Sealine area from
February 15 to 19 from 6am to
The general command urged
visitors to the area to exercise
caution for their own safety.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Premier to open Qatar
Motor Show tomorrow
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport
Bugatti to display
world’s fastest
production car
ugatti will be bringing the
world’s fastest production
car, the Veyron 16.4 Super
Sport, to this year’s Qatar Motor
The 1,200 PS bolide set the
world speed record for production cars in 2010, which still
stands today, with an average maximum speed of 431.072
km/h, officially confirmed by
the Guinness Book of Records.
Bugatti will be displaying the vehicle in its original configuration
as a World Record Edition for
the first time at a car show in the
Middle East.
The Veyron 16.4 Super Sport
was introduced in 2010 and has
been sold out for quite some
The Qatar Motor Show will be
open for the public from Friday.
The Super Sport’s recordsetting run took place on 26 June
2010 at the Volkswagen proving
grounds in Ehra-Lessien in Germany. Bugatti’s Pilote Officiel
Pierre-Henri Raphanel was at
the wheel.
In accordance with the Guinness rules, Raphanel had to drive
the Super Sport down the long
straight twice, once in each direction. Guinness then calculated the average from the maximum speed attained on each
run: 431.072 km/h.
“Setting this world record was
an extremely intense and completely new experience for me”,
said Raphanel, who, as a former
Formula One and Le Mans race
driver, is used to high speeds. “At
a speed greater than 400 km/h,
you are covering 120 metres per
second. Even the slightest action
in the cockpit can have enormous effects. You therefore must
have a perfect vehicle that you
can trust completely. The Veyron Super Sport was absolutely
The Super Sport’s technical
data are impressive: its 8-litre
W16 engine can put 1,200 PS
and a maximum torque of an astounding 1,500 Nm on the road.
The super car sprints from
nought to 100km/h in only 2.5
seconds. The Super Sport was
the further development of the
1,001 PS Bugatti Veron 16.4
with which Bugatti’s success
story began in 2005.
The increase in the power
of the 16-cylinder engine was
made possible by four enlarged
turbochargers and intercoolers.
The suspension of the highperformance sports car was reengineered to safely master the
unique power output.
The main spring rate was increased slightly and the anti-roll
bars were reinforced.
Together with newly developed dampers adapted from
motor sport, these changes improved the precision of control
over the wheels and the vehicle
Strike by taxi firm
drivers continues
he strike by a group of
Cars Taxis drivers entered
the third day yesterday
even as the company authorities
initiated some moves to settle
the issue.
Of the more than 400 yellow roof taxis of the Cars Taxis,
a franchisee of Karwa, only a
handful were seen on the road
Late in the evening, some 30
odd drivers of the firm were taken into custody, from their accommodation on Street 32 of the
Doha Industrial Area, by police
following complaints from the
firm’s officials, a source said.
Reacting to queries, a senior
official of Qatar’s taxi regulators,
Karwa, said Cars Taxis officials
informed them that the strike
was called by a “section of the
drivers” as they were “unable to
tamper with” the new sensoraided GPS meters which the
company installed on its cars.
However, some of the drivers
said the reason for the strike was
their low salary. It is learnt that a
driver is paid a salary of QR900
and will receive additional commission ranging between 10 and
15% based on the revenue that
they generated.
Queried if they were not better
off than the drivers of other taxi
firms as they were being paid a
fixed salary besides commission,
some of them replied they were
not getting any commission
worth mentioning.
Even before the formal launch
of their service in October, a section of the Cars Taxis drivers had
gone on a strike. All those who
protested were sent home before
the stamping of their visas after
the intervention of some of the
Asian embassies.
Though repeated efforts were
made in the afternoon to contact
a Cars Taxis official, nobody was
available for comments.
rime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser bin
Khalifa al-Thani will officially
inaugurate the fifth edition of
the Qatar Motor Show tomorrow
(February 5) at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
After declaring the show
open, the Premier will be taken
on a tour to visit the exhibitor
stands and engage with the participating exhibitors directly.
“The presence of the Prime
Minister, who will officially inaugurate the 5th edition of the
Qatar Motor Show, is indeed a
testimony to the gravitas of the
much awaited annual event. The
Qatar Motor Show is not only
an event of great importance to
the international and regional
automobile industry, but also in
enhancing Doha’s position as a
MICE destination. Additionally,
this exhibition is also the most
eagerly awaited annual event for
automobile and motor-sports
enthusiasts who make it a point
to attend every year”, said Ibrahim Abdullah al-Malki, Chief
Enterprise Officer,,
one of the co-organisers of the
The show will open to the
public the next day (Feb 6) while
running continuously for five
days until the 10th of February.
Like the 2014 show, this year’s
event will be co-hosted by the
Minister highlights
real goal of Sport Day
HE the Minister of Youth and
Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin
Nasser al-Ali has called for a
better understanding of the
real goal of National Sport
Speaking during a meeting
with doctors, nutritionists
and fitness experts as part of
preparations for the 4th edition
of National Sport Day, which
will be marked on Feb 10, the
Minister said that there are
significant challenges posed
by certain chronic diseases
such as obesity and diabetes.
He said there is an alarming
increase in the number of people living with such diseases,
and called for steps to correct
“wrongful behaviours” through
The Minister hoped that the
next five years would see a decline in the number of chronic
diseases that pose a danger
to the community, stressing
the importance of increasing
awareness about exercising and
sports and their role in enhancing health.
“We seek to develop appropriate rules and regulations to help
members of the community,
and we involve specialists to
put in place systems and programmes to achieve the desired
goal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sport Day joint
committee held a meeting with
a number of doctors, nutritionists and fitness experts to
discuss ideas and views that
can help in implementing the
Minister of Youth and Sports’
decision No 140 of 2014 on the
organisation of National Sport
Day events.
Traffic diversion
near Ikea showroom
from February 6
he traffic on one lane on each side
of the Shamal Expressway near Al
Kharaitiyat Interchange (N8) in
Leabaib area, close to Ikea showroom, will
remain closed for a month starting from
Friday (February 6).
The Public Works Authority (Ashghal)
has said in a statement that owing to the
work being carried out in the area, the
number of lanes will be reduced from four
to three on each direction and the traffic
will be routed through the remaining three
lanes during the period of construction (as
shown in the attached map).
The temporary closure is required to carry out construction works of a bridge which
forms part of the North Road enhancement
The works authority has requested all
road users to abide by the speed limits and
follow the road signs to ensure their safety.
Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), events, and Fira de
Barcelona. The Qatar National
Convention Centre remains the
venue for this year too.
The Qatar Motor Show has
been substantially contributing to the national economy and
reinforcing the image of Qatar
within the region and internationally. With the country working on fulfilling the pillars of the
Qatar National Vision 2030,
the prime minister’s patronage
of the Qatar Motor Show 2015
demonstrates the show’s key
role within the broader framework.
This year, the stage is set for
an absolutely high-octane ambience. Recently added to the
reveals are prestigious French
brand Bugatti, well-loved Japanese brands Suzuki and Honda
and the well-known American
brand Chevrolet.
Bugatti will present the iconic
Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, the
fastest production car at the Qatar Motor Show 2015.
This brilliant piece of automobile
stunned the world since July
2010 with a record breaking
top speed of 431.072 km/h,
making it the fastest super
car in the world. This record
remains to be beaten and will
thrill the visitors at the show
as the models displayed here
will be from the limited World
Record edition.
The fourth generation of Honda’s 2015 CR-V will also be displayed at the Qatar Motor Show
2015. This SUV is of particular
significance for the Middle East
as its exterior has been designed
to meet the requirements and
demands of customers from
the region. This model is also
generating tremendous excitement amongst Honda fans with
its new Earth Dreams Technology™ direct-injected 2.4-litre
DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine that powers this exquisite
Fans of Suzuki are also in for
a treat with the Japanese giant
unveiling its line-up of superb
Middle Eastern market collection including the Ciaz, the Alto
K10 and the Ertiga.
American automobile brand
Chevrolet has lots of excitement
for its fans, as it will reveal three
new cars - the Tahoe Z71, the
Corvette Z06 and the Silverado
In the past few weeks, brands
like Rolls Royce, Lamborgini,
Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes,
BMW, Audi and Harley-Davidson already revealed their product line-ups and model launches
for the region.
The participating automo-
bile and motorbikes brands
are: Husqvarna, Harley – Davidson, Mitsubishi, Mercedes
Benz, BMW, Mini, Rolls Royce,
Ferrari, Maserati, Land Rover,
Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Renault, Infiniti, Lexus,
Suzuki, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Honda,
GAC, Toyota, Nissan, Nimrod,
Ducati, Triumph, KTM, Vespa,
BMW Motorrad, MV Agusta,
Moto Guzzi, Sand X, Aprilia,
Piaggio, Gilera, Arctic Cat and
Participating automobile accessories brands: Off Road Experience, Titanium, Castrol Oils
and Continental tyres.
Mannai Auto, Cadillac to hold photo contest
Mannai Auto and Cadillac will be giving away an
iPhone 6 to a lucky winner in its Qatar Motor Show
2015 photo competition.
Anyone posting a picture from the Cadillac stand
at the Qatar Motor Show with the hashtag #CadillacQMS2015 on Facebook or Twitter will receive an
automatic entry into the lucky draw. A winner will be
selected at the conclusion of the event to receive the
Apple device.
Mohamed Helmy, Group General Manager, Mannai Auto, said: “This campaign is inspired by the
opportunity presented by the 2015 motor show. It is
an excellent platform for Cadillac to celebrate newly
available models such as the All-New ATS coupe and
the Platinum Edition Escalade ESV, as well as the
broader Cadillac range.”
The motor show, which runs from February 6 to 10,
will feature some of Cadillac’s hottest new arrivals,
including the 2015 models of the all-new 2015
Cadillac ATS Coupe, the ATS Compact Sport Sedan,
the CTS Sport Sedan and the Escalade ESV Luxury
Alfardan Group lines up array of
events for National Sport Day
lfardan Group will host
an array of activities for
their staff as part of the
National Sport Day celebrations
on February 10.
The events are being hosted
in support of the government’s
vision to establish the country
as a premier global sports hub,
according to a company communique.
More than 1,000 employees of
the group are participating in the
events on February 10, a statement issued by the group said.
Alfardan Group’s initiative, it
said, will help reinforce a feeling
of camaraderie among its employees which according to the
statement is a key fundamental
strategy of its Corporate Social
The events, it said, reaffirm
Alfardan Group’s commitment
towards the initiative in line with
the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to
create a healthier society of all
ages, genders and nationalities
in Qatar.
Vice-Chairman of Alfardan
Group Ali Alfardan said: “Qatar is one of the few countries
to have a day dedicated solely
for sports activities on Tuesday
(February 10) when we organise
various sporting events for our
employees to showcase their
talents. Alfardan Group has always been a pioneer in supporting sports events throughout the
years so as to generate excite-
Some of the participants at the National Sport Day celebrations hosted by Alfardan Group last year, pose
with Vice chairman Ali Alfardan.
ment and enthusiasm for sports
in Qatar.
Ali Alfardan said this year’s
events will be unique as they will
be held at Al Shefallahiya Oasis,
belonging to the Alfardan Group.
The entire farm will be transformed into a sporting venue for
various activities.
President and CEO of Alfardan Group Omar Alfardan
said: “Alfardan Group firmly
supports HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s
initiative to have a National
Sport Day. Such an event will
provide Qatari citizens and residents with a platform to showcase their talents in different
sports as well as ensure their
physical well-being.”
Elimination rounds for vari-
ous events are now being staged
in different locations. Competing teams and players in
football, cricket, volleyball,
basketball, lawn tennis, table
tennis, badminton and billiards
are battling it out as individual
and team finalists will face each
other in their respective divisions during the February 10
final rounds.
TAMU-Q ranked first among Mena universities
exas A&M University at
Qatar has got the top spot
for research excellence in
the Mena region in a survey by
Times Higher Education for the
top five universities.
Three countries from the region are featured in the top five
universities. Lebanese American University takes the second
place and King AbdulAziz University from Saudi Arabia comes
third. Qatar University is ranked
fourth while American University of Beirut comes fifth.
The top five has been formulated using just one of Times
Higher Education rankings indicators - research impact, based
on Elsevier’s Scopus database,
the most comprehensive database of peer-reviewed research.
It is designed to highlight some
of the region’s top performers
ahead of the magazine’s inau-
gural Mena universities summit
taking place on 23 and 24 February in Doha.
In partnership with the global
thought leaders and academics
in attendance, the event, which
is part of the Times Higher Education World Summit Series and
is being co-hosted with Qatar
University, will feature an open
consultation session on proposals for a full Times Higher Education Mena University Ranking.
The summit will be the first
major public consultation on the
Times Higher Education Mena
rankings, which will be based on
the foundations of Times Higher
Education’s flagship World University Rankings, but will feature
a bespoke range of metrics for
the region.
The aim of the consultation is
to enable the publication, which
is the world’s leading authority
on higher education, to identify
new metrics which would help
to reflect different regional priorities and university missions
– such as a greater focus on
teaching and learning or graduate employment.
An official Times Higher Education Mena ranking is expected
to be published next year, combining the research impact indicator revealed, with a wider
range of performance metrics.
Additionally, the Summit will
include sessions on university
leadership, international research collaboration, industryuniversity collaboration and
teaching excellence.
Qatar University president
Professor Sheikha Abdulla al-Misnad said: “This summit comes
at a time when QU is becoming a
leader in academic excellence and
the fastest-growing university
for research in the region. We are
pleased to co-host this important
forum which will give Mena universities the opportunity to share
their experiences and aspirations
towards improved rankings and
international reputation. It also
allows institutions from outside
the region to better appreciate
the particular dynamics of higher
education in the region. We look
forward to the vibrant discussions
that will emanate from these sessions and the recommendations
that will emerge that Mena university leaders could apply in
their future planning at their respective institutions.”
Speakers at the Summit,
which is being held under the
patronage of HH the Deputy
Emir, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, will include a
number of scholars from the region and outside.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
team to meet
labour officials
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
delegation from the
Philippines will meet
officials of Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs today for the convening
of the Qatar-Philippines Joint
Labour Committee in Doha, labour attaché Leopoldo De Jesus
has said.
Some of the issues that will
be discussed include recent
policies in recruiting workers
in the Philippines and Qatar,
development of electronic recruiting guidelines, regulation
of recruitment cost, development of dispute settlement
guidelines, household service workers agreement and
protocol and contract, implementation of the comprehensive information and orientation programme under the
Abu Dhabi dialogue.
Philippine labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has sent
overseas employment administrator Hans Leo Cacdac
and a number of other labour
officials to Qatar.
“They will meet their counterpart in the ministry here
to discuss matters of mutual
concern arising out of the im-
Leopoldo De Jesus, labour
attaché, Philippine embassy
plementation of the two countries’ bilateral agreement on
manpower and the additional
protocol signed by both parties
in 2009,” said De Jesus.
He noted that the two-day
meeting will be convened at
the office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Doha.
A scheduled visit to the labour
camps at the Industrial Area
is also expected to take place
today after the meeting.
De Jesus said secretary Baldoz is looking forward to a “productive result” of the meeting
that aims to ensure the protection and welfare of overseas
Filipino workers (OFWs). Ambassador Crescente Relacion
and other embassy officials
are also expected to join the
delegation at the meeting.
Relacion hopes that a provision in the bilateral labour
agreement between Qatar
and the Philippines will be
implemented to further protect OFWs from “contract
This irregularity in recruiting Filipino workers is resorted
to by unscrupulous employers
who are colluding with some
recruitment agencies back
During her visit to Qatar in
November last year, secretary
Baldoz met with HE the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Abdullah Saleh Mubarak
al-Khulaifi to discuss issues
affecting OFWs.
“We will look at their labour laws and if anything there
would be advantageous to our
workers then we have no reason to apply amendments,” she
The Philippine government
will focus on sending more
professionals and skilled workers to Qatar and other GCC
countries this year, it is learnt.
The Philippine overseas labour office noted an increasing
number of professionals such
as doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, and architects
have been deployed to the
country in the past months.
Shop closed for selling fake sunglasses
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has closed down an optic shop in the New Al-Mirqab area for one month for selling counterfeit
sunglasses. During an inspection of the shop, the ministry officials discovered that all the sunglasses on display were counterfeits of
international brands. Accordingly, they took an administrative decision to close the outlet for one month.
70 register for Halal Qatar Festival
ome 70 applications for
participation in the Halal
Qatar Festival for sheep
and goats, have been received by
Katara - the Cultural Village.
These applications were received through SMS from Qatar
and other GCC countries. It is
also expected that the number
of applications for the various
categories would increase before
the closure of the registration
process in mid-February.
Khalid al-Shahwani, chairman, the festival organising
committee, said that the festival
this year will include 20 barns
and a sum of QR10,000 will
be allocated to each owner of a
barn. “Priority will be given to
elderly owners and those taking
part at the festival for the first
time. However, the daily auction
would be open for Qatari owners of sheep and goats to display
their breed of each category for
sale on the afternoons throughout the duration of the festival,”
he added.
Al-Shahwani pointed out that
besides the four first prizes, five
other consolation prizes have
been added, from the sixth to the
10th positions, with QR5,000
for each prize. Besides, all the
first 10 winners will be given
mementoes and certificates of
The first prize will be
QR50,000, the third QR30,000,
the fourth QR15,000 and the
fifth QR10,000.
He affirmed that preparations are proceeding according
to the schedule for the opening
of the festival on February 28.
He hoped for the active participation from official organisations and companies specialised in animal wealth and
livestock, in addition to those
specialised in the production
and sale of animal fodder and
veterinary services firms. Qatar Development Bank will take
part in the festival to give the
participants advice and consultations on the financing of
related livestock projects.
WISE invites nominations for education prize QOC set to launch
health campaign for
women on Feb 8
he World Innovation
Summit for Education
(WISE) has invited applications for the 2015 WISE Prize
for Education.
Submissions must be made
through the WISE website www.
March 31.
The nominations will be reviewed by an international committee of education experts.
The final selection will be made
by a jury chaired by Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali al-Thani, chairman,
Sheikh Abdulla said: “Our
WISE Prize for Education laureates are all individuals whose
passion, energy, and commitment have been an inspirational
force in the world of education. And they are not alone.
The WISE Prize has focused
international attention on the
crucial importance of education in building strong, prosperous societies. I very much
look forward to identifying the
2015 WISE Prize for Education
The prize recognises an inspiring, visionary approach as
well as a proven track record
of achievement in education
at any level, field, or sector.
Nominations can be made by
individuals or institutions - including schools, international organisations and private
companies - from anywhere in
the world.
Now in its fifth year, the
WISE Prize for Education is
the first global recognition of
an individual or team for an
outstanding contribution to
education. The WISE Prize
raises the status of education by giving it similar prestige enjoyed in other fields for
which international prizes exist - such as literature, peace,
and economics.
The WISE Prize for Education
Laureate, who receives a gold
medal and $500,000, will be announced at the WISE Summit
2015 taking place on November 3
and 5 in Doha.
Trade bodies join hands to
host football tourney
The German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar
(AHK) and the Qatar-Germany Partnership (QGP)
have joined hands to host a football tournament to
mark National Sport Day.
The tournament, which has Nasser Bin Khaled (NBK)
as the main sponsor, will take place at the Al Sadd
Sports Club on February 10.
The event will include 16 teams, made up of 120
players who represent the local and German
companies in Qatar.
Sheikh Nawaf Bin Nasser al-Thani, chairman and
CEO of NBK, said: “Sport is an important pillar in
the implementation of the Qatar National Vision
2030, through building a healthy society away from
harmful habits.”
Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser also commented on the
importance of scheduling a sport day, exclusively
for the Qatar residents to participate in different
events, which he said confirms the pursuit of HH
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the founding of
a society based on healthy youth.
Dr Peter Goepfrich, CEO, German Industry and
Commerce Office, expressed his appreciation at
NBK’s support for the tournament.
Committee (QOC) is set
to launch a two-month
long Qatar Active Campaign
(QAC) for women and girls.
The fitness and health programme is meant for those
above nine years.
The programme will take
place from February 8 to April
9 on a daily basis except Fridays and Saturdays. It will be
held between between 6pm
and 7:30pm at the Voltaire
School sport hall in Al Dafna.
For participation, the candidates need to fill a form
which could be found on the
QOC website. Those under 18
years need to get the approval
of their parents, it said.
Talking about the women’s
fitness and health programme,
its general supervisor Fajr Abdulmuhsin said the entire programme it is aimed at improving the women’s fitness and
meeting their essential need
to be in a good shape while being fit. This is in addition to
the healthy aspect of practicing sport which contributes
to reducing risks of illnesses
relating to obesity and overweight.”
Abdulmuhsen said: “The
programme includes fitness
and aerobic exercises conducted by women specialists.
The participants will also have
some fun where they would be
playing games such as volleyball, basketball besides being
acquainted to familiarise with
different sport equipment.”
The Qatar Active Campaign
organising committee has offered prize money for 10 participants who will manage to
reduce their weight the most.
The Qatar Active Campaign
aims to encourage mothers and their daughters in the
same programme, thus contributing to strengthen the
psychological and physical
balance, and helping them
improve daily stressful life in
a healthy atmosphere for the
period of nearly two months.
The campaign has called
upon women and girls to join
the programme which it said
would contribute to achieving the ‘Sport for All’ vision,
and works towards promoting
the practice of sport activities
across the State of Qatar as a
right for all categories of the
Cleaning solutions firm opens Doha office
ärcher, the world leader in innovative cleaning technology solutions, has opened the Kärcher
Centre along Salwa Road in Doha.
German Ambassador Angelika
Storz-Chakarji led the roster of guests
during the opening ceremony, which
was also attended by representatives
from Kärcher Middle East and Qatar Trading Co (QTC), as well as key
industry players.
“The centre is a pivotal platform
for the Qatar market. It provides users with professional cleaning solutions and products, as well as access
to a dedicated after-sales service, repairs and maintenance. The Kärcher
Centre also serves as a sales outlet and
customer service for both our professional and home and garden products,” said Richard Nouira, managing
director, Kärcher Middle East.
“Kärcher’s operations in the Middle
East have seen consistent growth over
the past years as the cleaning and hygiene industry gathers pace. We sold
13,280 machines in Qatar in 2014 and
Officials of Kärcher and QTC with guests at the opening ceremony.
had 31,720 after-market spares and
accessories,” Nouira said.
“The business relationship between QTC and Kärcher has become
even more solid as the years go by.
The Kärcher Centre will be a flagship
facility in the Qatari market, reinforcing the combined strength of Kärcher’s
cleaning solutions and QTC’s market
knowledge to provide a best in class
service to all customers,” said Tariq M
al-Shamlan, managing partner, QTC.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Iran MPs to
study bill on
resuming all
nuclear work
ran’s parliament agreed yesterday to examine a bill asking
the government to resume all
its nuclear activities in the event
of fresh US sanctions, local media
Under an interim deal struck in
2013, Iran froze its uranium enrichment in exchange for limited
sanctions relief. But two deadlines for a full accord cutting off
Iran’s pathway to an atomic bomb
have been missed.
If passed, the bill would repeal the temporary agreement
and torpedo hopes of a lasting
deal between Iran and the P5+1
group of nations, which has to be
reached by the end of June.
The draft law, supported by 220
of 290 lawmakers, said that, in the
event of new US sanctions, “Iran is
obliged to immediately annul the
interim Geneva agreement and
take a series of measures to exercise the nation’s nuclear rights”.
It also stipulates that Iran would
resume enrichment and accelerate
construction of its controversial
Arak heavy water reactor.
Media did not say when the text
may be submitted to a parliamentary vote.
Last week the US Senate Banking Committee approved a measure that would ratchet up sanctions on Iran in the event of the
talks hitting an impasse.
It would gradually impose
sanctions against Iran if, by July
1, no final deal is reached in the
talks under way between Tehran
and the P5+1 - Britain, China,
France, Russia, the United States
and Germany.
The group has been seeking a
comprehensive accord that would
prevent Iran from developing a
nuclear bomb in return for an
easing of economic sanctions.
Iran says its nuclear programme
only has civilian aims and that
there is no plan to build a bomb.
The United States voiced concerns on Monday about Iran’s
missile programme after Tehran
announced the launch of a satellite into orbit.
The satellite is the fourth successfully placed into orbit by Iran,
the defence ministry in Tehran
said. After the launch two years
ago of a monkey into space, Iran
plans a human space mission by
Tehran has rejected Western
concerns that the space launches
are furthering a ballistic missile
“As we’ve said before, Iran’s
missile programme continues to
pose a dangerous threat to the
region and is an issue we monitor closely,” State Department
spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in
“And our long-standing concerns regarding Iran’s missile
development efforts are shared
by the international community, which has passed a series of
UN Security Council resolutions
focused on Iran’s proliferationsensitive activities.”
govt plans
Shia fighters celebrate on Monday in Al Mansuriya, in Iraq’s Diyala province, after government forces retook the area from Islamic
State’s control. Iraqi forces have “liberated” Diyala province from the militant group, retaking all populated areas of the eastern region.
Iraqi cabinet nod
for national guard
Sunni leaders have billed the
national guard law as a way
to handle their own security
in combating Islamic State
raq’s cabinet yesterday approved a draft law creating a
national guard, which Sunni
political figures have described
as a necessary step to achieving
national reconciliation.
But a measure to reform the
government’s ban on former
Baath Party members from
government proved divisive.
Sunni ministers boycotted the
second draft law, saying it did
not go far enough, while the
rest of the cabinet approved it.
It remains unclear how parliament will greet the two sets
of legislation, which are already
generating controversy. Approval by the cabinet does not
guarantee passage by the parliament.
Prime Minister Haider alAbadi’s spokesman Rafid Jaboori applauded the sending of
the national guard law to parliament as “a way to confront
ISIL”, a reference to the militant
group Islamic State which controls large sections of the country.
Sunni political and tribal
leaders have billed the national
guard law as a way to handle
their own security in combating
the militant group.
The guard would be a locally-based force, answerable
to the provincial government,
and then the prime minister.
Sunni leaders hope it will empower their communities, who
distrust the army and national
police they blame for carrying
out indiscriminate arrests in the
Ending the ban on ex-members of the Baath Party, which
ruled Iraq before the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussain in 2003, from public service has also been a main Sunni
But Sunni cabinet members
were disappointed by the second draft law.
Dr Muhannad Hussam, a
politician and close aide to
Deputy Prime Minister Saleh
Mutlaq, said the measure on
by Shia government ministers
without their Sunni counterparts was a disaster.
“This will create huge pressure against Sunni political
figures within the society,” said
Hussam, who attended the cabinet meeting. “We had received
promises. Now we found it’s not
Still, Hussam said the Sunni
ministers supported the national guard bill, which he
called “a start”.
Iraq’s debaathification policies have already been amended
twice since 2003, most recently
at the beginning of the previous
government’s term in 2010.
ahrain’s new parliament
approved the government’s political programme yesterday, Information
Minister Isa Abdulrahman alHammadi said.
A Shia-led movement calling
for a constitutional monarchy
and a popularly chosen cabinet
was suppressed by the authorities in 2011, prompting the influential Shia opposition bloc
Al Wefaq to reject extra powers
granted to parliament in a 2012
constitutional amendment.
Under that amendment, the
government must offer a new
programme within 21 days if an
initial programme is rejected by
parliament. If rejected a second
time, the government will be automatically replaced.
Yesterday was the first time
parliament was allowed to vote
on the programme. And given
that the opposition boycotted
November parliamentary elections and is not represented, the
outcome was inevitable.
Hammadi told AFP 37 out of
40 MPs voted in favour of the
programme and three abstained,
describing yesterday’s move as
amendments were announced
following national dialogue talks
which the opposition took part
in before boycotting them after
the first round ended.
The nation has been rocked by
unrest since a 2011 Shia-led uprising.
At least 89 people have been
killed in clashes with security
forces since 2011, while hundreds have been arrested and put
on trial, rights groups say.
Assad’s victims
Injured boys receive medical assistance in a field hospital, after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, in the Douma neighbourhood of Damascus yesterday.
Pictures of IS logos on
food parcels alarm UN
Issued in Public Interest by
he United Nations
food agency expressed
alarm over images
circulating on social media
showing its food aid being
distributed from boxes bearing the logo of the Islamic
State group.
The World Food Programme said it was “extremely concerned” over the
images, and that it was trying to verify the authenticity of the photographs and
determine where they were
“WFP condemns this manipulation of desperately
needed food aid inside Syria,”
Muhannad Hadi, the agency’s emergency co-ordinator
for the Syrian crisis, said in a
statement late Monday.
“We urge all parties to
the conflict to respect humanitarian principles and
allow humanitarian workers including our partners to
deliver food to the most vulnerable and hungry families,”
he added.
Images still circulating on
Twitter yesterday showed
people, including children,
gathered around and picking
up boxes of food aid marked
with the black and white
flag of the IS militant group,
which controls large swathes
of territory in Syria and Iraq.
In one photograph, a
young man is shown carry-
ing a box that appears to have
the familiar light blue UN
wreath logo barely hidden
behind a shabby print of the
IS flag.
It is not the first time the
brutal group has been accused of seizing aid that
enters its turf as part of its
strategy of controlling the
populations on territories it
has taken.
WFP said the photographs
seemed to have been taken
in Dayr Hafr, in eastern rural
Aleppo governorate, which
it has been unable to reach
with aid since last August 5.
At the time, its cross-line
convoy delivered 1,700 food
rations, or enough to feed
8,500 people for one month,
it said.
“WFP has learned that in
September 2014, ISIS raided
Syrian Red Crescent (SARC)
warehouses in Dayr Hafr
where undistributed food rations may have been stored,”
the agency said, using an
alternative acronym for the
“All areas controlled by
ISIS are security hot spots,
which severely limits the
ability to monitor food distributions,” it pointed out.
WFP has been operating
in Syria since the country’s
bloody civil war erupted
nearly four years ago.
It is currently delivering
aid to more than 4mn people
each month inside Syria and
to 1.8mn refugees in neighbouring countries.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
New clashes erupt for control of Libya oil ports
ew clashes erupted yesterday between rival factions fighting for control of Libya’s biggest oil ports
Al Sidra and Ras Lanuf, killing
at least 10 people, the two sides
The fighting came a day after
the United Nations said it was
seeking a ceasefire to pave the
way for a new round of peace
talks between factions operating two opposing governments,
nearly four years after Muammar
Gaddafi’s overthrow.
Libya’s internationally-recognised government under Prime
Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and
the elected House of Representatives have been based in the east
since a group called Libya Dawn
seized Tripoli last summer, set up
its own administration and reinstated the old parliament.
Troops loyal to the Tripoli government launched an offensive
in December to try to take the
eastern Al Sidra and Ras Lanuf
oil ports, which have had to shut
down operations. Both sides had
declared partial ceasefires last
month, which had largely held,
to give a UN-sponsored dialogue
a chance.
Forces allied to Thinni conducted air strikes yesterday to stop
a new advance of fighters allied to
the rival government, a spokesman
for Thinni’s forces said.
“There is an attack from them
from all sides on the oil ports,”
the spokesman said, adding
that five of his soldiers had been
killed. “But we’ve stopped them.”
The rival force confirmed
fighting was taking place. “Our
boys are advancing,” said an official of the rival government,
adding that five of his troops had
also died.
On Monday, UN special envoy
Bernadino Leon visited Tripoli to
discuss with the rival assembly
there restarting the talks within
days inside Libya.
Last month, the United Na-
tions managed to bring some
members of the factions to talks
in Geneva but the Tripoli-based
parliament wanted the dialogue
to take place inside Libya.
Omar Hmeidan, spokesman
for the parliament, said Leon had
agreed during his Tripoli visit
that talks should focus on forming a national unity government.
Outlining what a solution
might look like, Hmeidan said
US plans
to boost
Jordan aid
to $1bn
per year
Jailed Jazeera
reporter gives
up Egyptian
An official says the final legal
procedures for Mohamed
Fahmy’s deportation are
being completed
l Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy has renounced his Egyptian
citizenship, his family said yesterday, in a bid to follow his Australian colleague Peter Greste in
being released from a Cairo jail.
Fahmy’s surrender of his
Egyptian passport is a necessary
step for him to be freed and deported as a foreign national under a decree issued by President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in November. He also has Canadian citizenship.
The news came after Canadian
Foreign Minister John Baird said
Fahmy’s release was “imminent”
following the freeing of Greste on
An Egyptian official following the case said: “The final legal
procedures for his (Fahmy’s) deportation are being completed.”
He said the renunciation of
citizenship had already been finalised.
Fahmy and Greste were arrested in December 2013 along with
Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, and later sentenced to up
to 10 years in prison on charges
of aiding the blacklisted Muslim
Their jailing sparked a global
outcry and proved a public relations nightmare for Sisi, who has
cracked down on Islamists since
toppling president Mohamed
Mursi in July 2013.
“He signed the papers more than
a week ago” giving up his Egyptian
citizenship, a relative of Fahmy said
on condition of anonymity.
“It was very hard for him because he is a proud Egyptian who
comes from a family of military
Yesterday Fahmy’s fiancee
Marwa Omara said: “We are still
waiting and we hope that he is
out today.”
Last month, the three men’s
convictions were overturned by
an appeal court which ordered a
retrial but kept them in custody.
Yesterday, in his first posts on
his official Twitter account after more than 400 days in jail,
Greste—resting in Cyprus—said
he would soon be heading home.
“Brother Mike and I due to
head home to Australia shortly.
Can’t wait for the family reunion,” he wrote.
“Special thanks to all who’ve
EU slams mass
death sentences
A court in Egypt violated the
country’s international human
rights obligations by sentencing 183 men to death on Monday for killing 13 policemen,
the European Union said.
“Today’s decision of a court
in Egypt to sentence 183
defendants to death following
a mass trial is in violation of
Egypt’s international human
rights obligations,” the EU’s
foreign service said in a statement on Monday.
The statement recalled that
the EU categorically opposes
capital punishment, which
it says is cruel and inhuman
and fails to act as a deterrent.
Monday’s verdict, which can
be appealed, came after
the initial sentences were
sent to the grand mufti, the
Egyptian government’s official
interpreter of Islamic law, for
supported us over the past year.
STILL IN PRISON,” he added.
On Monday, Greste expressed
hope that his two colleagues
would be released soon.
“This is a massive step forward... I just hope that Egypt
keeps going down this path
with the others,” he said in an Al
Jazeera interview referring to his
Greste said he felt a “real mix
of emotions boiling inside” upon
hearing the unexpected news
that he was to be released because it meant leaving behind
“my brothers” Fahmy and Mohamed.
“I feel incredible angst about
my colleagues, leaving them behind,” he said.
“Amidst all this relief, I still
feel a sense of concern. If it’s
appropriate for me to be free,
it’s right for all of them to be
Al Jazeera has vowed to pursue
the campaign to free both Fahmy
and producer Mohamed.
But the channel’s head of
newsgathering, Heather Allan,
admitted she was not confident
that Mohamed would be released
as he has no second passport.
“I can’t say I am confident, no.
I just don’t know, honestly. Are
we going to keep on fighting it?
Absolutely—we are not going to
leave him there,” she said.
Mohamed’s family has pinned
its hopes on a presidential pardon or his acquittal on appeal.
Amnesty International said
Greste’s release should not divert attention from the continuing imprisonment of Fahmy and
“All three men are facing
trumped up charges and were
forced to endure a farcical trial
marred by irregularities,” the
rights group said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh shake hands after signing a
memorandum of understanding for US assistance to Jordan during a ceremony yesterday in Washington.
unmen in Sudan’s Darfur
region have kidnapped
two Russians working for
UTair, an airline contracted by
the international peacekeeping
mission there, officials said yesterday.
The Sudanese government
dismissed the possibility of a
ransom payment for their freedom.
UTair said two of its employees had been seized in the town
of Zalingei last Thursday when
a UNAMID (UN-African Union
peacekeeping mission in Darfur)
minibus was blocked by six cars.
“The passengers were forced
to get off the minibus at gunpoint and led off in an unknown
direction,” the company said in a
The hostage-takers had not
yet made any demands, it added.
The Russian foreign ministry
said the two workers of UTair
ground service were not harmed
in the kidnapping and that it was
working to secure their release.
Russia’s federal Investigative
Committee said the two were a
manager and a technician with
Sudan’s foreign ministry said
the kidnapping was not a political act.
“We condemn this kidnapping
and we assure you that we will
not succumb to the blackmail by
paying a ransom. We have a consistent policy on this,” Minister
of State Kamal al-Din Ismail told
a news conference.
However government officials
who requested anonymity said
that Sudan has facilitated ransom payments for kidnapped
foreigners in the past.
A UTair helicopter with the
UN mission in neighbouring
South Sudan (UNMISS) was shot
down last year and three of its
crew were killed.
UTair operates domestic and international passenger flights, helicopter services and charter flights.
he United States yesterday
announced plans to increase annual aid to Jordan
to $1bn from $660mn to help it
pay for the cost of housing refugees from Iraq and Syria and of
fighting Islamic State militants.
An agreement on the aid,
which is subject to the approval
of the US Congress, was signed
before the wide release of a video
that appeared to show Islamic
State militants burning a captured Jordanian pilot alive.
Jordan is one of a handful of Arab
states that have taken part in a USled air campaign against the Islamic
State group, which last year seized
swathes of Iraq and Syria. The pilot,
Maaz al-Kassasbeh, was captured
in December after his F-16 crashed
in territory controlled by the militants in Syria.
In a brief statement, the US
State Department said it planned
to provide $1bn per year to Jordan
for each of the US fiscal years for
2015, 2016 and 2017. The US fiscal
year ends on September 30.
“The United States recognises
Jordan’s increased immediate
needs resulting from regional
unrest, the efforts Jordan is undertaking at the forefront of the
fight against ISIL and other extremist ideology and terrorism,
the influx of refugees from Syria
and Iraq, the disruption of foreign energy supplies, and other
unprecedented strains,” the
State Department said.
The Islamic State group is also
known as the Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The increase for the period
of FY 2015 to FY 2017 is designed
to address Jordan’s short-term,
extraordinary needs, including
those related to regional instability and rising energy costs,”
the State Department added.
US Vice President Joe Biden met
with Jordan’s King Abdullah yesterday and “reinforced America’s
ironclad support” for Jordan and its
role in the coalition fighting IS militants, the White House said.
Biden offered his condolences
to the family of Kassasbeh, and
called for the release of hostages
held by IS.
Blast, gunfire along
Egypt-Gaza border
Two Russians seized
by gunmen in Darfur
both sides would have to agree
on a government head, with two
deputies coming from each of the
rival assemblies.
He said the talks would start at
the end of next week at a location
kept secret for security reasons,
after which the dialogue would
widen to several other cities.
There was no immediate comment from the House of Representatives.
A passerby inspects the site of a blast in central Cairo yesterday.
warning shots over the
frontier into Gaza yesterday after a bomb exploded on
Gaza territory near an Egyptian
army convoy, Egyptian security
sources said, blaming Hamas,
which denied the charge.
In Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, a man was killed in a
bomb blast hours after two devices were discovered at Cairo
airport and another went off in
the centre of the capital without casualties, other security
sources said.
Hamas, which governs Gaza,
said Palestinian positions had
come under fire from Egyptian
soil with no justification.
“Fire was directed in a surprising, unjustified way and
without any violation from the
Palestinian side,” said Eyad alBozom, a spokesman for Gaza’s
Hamas-run interior ministry.
deepened in Egypt since last
Thursday, when Islamic State’s
Egyptian affiliate claimed responsibility for co-ordinated
attacks that killed over 30 security personnel in the Sinai
Egypt is facing an Islamist insurgency based in Sinai,
which borders the Gaza Strip as
well as Israel and Egypt’s Suez
The Egyptian government
has accused Hamas of funnelling weapons and fighters to the
Sinai-based militants.
have made contact with Egypt
to protest about yesterday’s
shooting and have demanded
an investigation, Bozom of the
Gaza interior ministry said.
An Egyptian court last week
banned Hamas’ armed wing and
listed it as a terrorist organisation, prompting Hamas to reject
Egypt as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, a role it
has played for decades.
Authorities have accused the
Muslim Brotherhood of conspiring with Hamas against the
Egyptian state, allegations both
groups deny.
Egypt declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group and repressed it systematically since
the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Mursi, from the
presidency in 2013.
Both groups deny accusations that they engage in terrorism.
Militants have struck population centres such as Alexandria and Cairo with greater frequency since Mursi was ousted,
though the most common and
deadliest violence is concentrated in Sinai.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Netanyahu’s strongman image boosts ratings
sraeli voters’ security concerns have boosted Benjamin
Netanyahu’s popularity in the
past month, helping him to skirt
criticism of a widened rift with
the White House as he aims for a
fourth election success.
With violence on the Lebanese
border and worries about Iran’s
nuclear programme high on voters’ minds, the conservative leader’s reputation for being strong
on security helped to raise his ap-
proval rating to 51% from 46% in
The same monthly opinion poll,
conducted on Sunday and published in the left-wing Haaretz
daily, forecast Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party would win 25
of parliament’s 120 seats in the
March 17 election against 23 for
the centre-left Zionist Union.
Last month it gave Likud 22 seats
and Zionist Union 23.
The latest figures showed him
on course to build a governing
coalition of parties from the right,
far-right and Orthodox Jewish
blocs and return to power for a
fourth term, solidifying his position as Israel’s longest-serving
prime minister since David BenGurion.
“It seems Netanyahu has the
best chances,” said Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at Hebrew
The poll results will come as
a surprise to some: Netanyahu
has been fending off criticism at
home and abroad over his decision to accept an invitation from
John Boehner, the Republican
speaker of the US House of Representatives, to address Congress
on Iran’s nuclear programme two
weeks before the Israeli election.
Many have seen Netanyahu’s
visit, announced without first
consulting the White House, as
an insult to US President Barack
Obama, with whom he has always
had a testy relationship.
Yet opinion polls show that
Netanyahu is perceived by Israelis
as having the steadier hand when
it comes to keeping them safe, and
he has been peddling that message. A current Likud TV ad shows
him ringing the doorbell of parents
about to go out for the evening.
“You asked for a babysitter?
You got a Bibi-sitter,” he says, us-
ing his nickname.
Several other polls last week
presented similar figures to those
published in Haaretz on Sunday.
It still remains possible that
the Zionist Union could secure
more seats than Likud come the
election. But with the arithmetic
suggesting that the party would
struggle to cobble together a
working coalition, Netanyahu remains more likely to be the man
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
asks to form a government.
Israeli newspapers moved their
focus recently from security matters to allegations - denied by
Netanyahu’s lawyers - that his
wife Sara pocketed the deposits
from recycled bottles purchased
for their official residence with
state funds.
While tricky for Netanyahu, the
whiff of scandal has served to shift
attention away from issues like
the high cost of living and soaring housing prices - the Zionist
Union’s main campaigning issues.
He may however soon have a
more difficult hurdle to negotiate:
Israel’s state comptroller is to release a report on February 17 into
alleged excessive expenditures at
Netanyahu’s residences.
The investigation, prompted
by complaints about which the
comptroller has declined to give
further details, will detail expenditures at the prime minister’s
three residences on items such as
food, furniture, clothing, accommodation and staff, and decide
whether public funds were misused.
And while the polls are comforting for Netanyahu for now,
they have been off the mark in the
past. In 2013 they failed to predict
a second-place finish for Yesh
Atid, then a new centrist party that
campaigned on economic issues.
Israel call to
shelve UN
Gaza probe
is rebuffed
The Palestinians say
Netanyahu’s demand is an
attempt to intimidate UN
investigators and cloud the
United Nations inquiry
into possible war crimes
in the Gaza conflict will
produce its report on time next
month, officials said yesterday,
brushing aside a demand from
Israel’s prime minister to shelve it
after the chairman resigned.
It marked the latest chapter in
fraught relations between Israel
and the main UN human rights
forum, which the Jewish state and
its ally Washington accuse of bias
against Israel.
Mary McGowan Davis, already
a member of the independent
commission of inquiry on Gaza
and a former justice of the Supreme Court of New York, will replace Canadian academic William
Schabas, a UN statement said.
Schabas said on Monday he
would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy
work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that following the resignation, publication of the report
ought to be shelved and that Hamas should be investigated rather
than the Jewish state.
More than 2,100 Palestinians,
most of them civilians, 67 Israeli
soldiers and six civilians in Israel,
were killed in last summer’s conflict. The UN investigation, due
to issue its report on March 23, is
Bus carrying
Israeli Muslims
crashes, 8 dead
A collision involving a
truck and a bus carrying
Israeli Muslims returning
from prayer at Jerusalem’s
Al Aqsa mosque killed
eight people yesterday,
police and local officials
At least 24 people were
injured in the crash at a
junction in southern Israel
near several Bedouin
Arab towns, medical
officials said. Most of the
casualties were women,
they said.
Israel’s Channel Two TV
cited witnesses as saying
that a tractor being
ferried by the truck came
loose and toppled into
the bus.
The mayor of the nearby
town of Rahat, Talal alKariani, told the station
that the bus passengers
were mostly elderly, local
Muslims, who go to pray
at the Al Aqsa mosque in
daily organised or weekly
probing violations by both sides.
Schabas’ resignation follows a
letter from Israel’s ambassador
to the United Nations in Geneva,
Eviatar Manor, to Human Rights
Ruecker of Germany decrying
what he called a “blatant conflict
of interest” and Schabas’ prior
relationship with the Palestinians. Manor demanded his immediate dismissal in the January
30 letter, made public yesterday.
Israel announced months ago
that it would not co-operate with
the inquiry, calling it a “kangaroo
court”. Alleging bias, it had previously boycotted the 47-member
state forum for 20 months, returning in October 2013.
Schabas said in a letter to
Ruecker he had been paid $1,300
for a legal opinion to the PLO in
October 2012, but that he had
acted with full “independence
and impartiality” as chairman.
“The President respects the
decision of Professor Schabas and
appreciates that in this way even
the appearance of a conflict of
interest is avoided, thus preserving the integrity of the process,”
Ruecker said in a statement.
The investigators are “now in
the final phase of collecting evidence from as many victims and
witnesses as possible from both
sides”, he said.
The inquiry was set up by the
Geneva forum last July at the
Palestinians’ request. Its other
member is veteran investigator
Doudou Diene of Senegal.
Schabas, in his letter, said he
had not been asked to provide any
details of his past activity concerning Palestine and Israel. His
curriculum vitae and blog were
public, he said.
“This work in defence of human rights appears to have made
me a huge target for malicious
attacks, which, if Israel’s complaint is to be taken at face value,
will only intensify in the weeks to
come,” he said.
Rather than waiting for a legal
opinion from the world body in
New York, which would delay final drafting of its report, its work
would be better served by his resignation, he said.
Ruecker accepted the resignation, with spokesman Rolando
Gomez saying that “in this way
even an appearance of conflict of interest is avoided, thus
preserving the integrity of the
But Netanyahu seized on Schabas’s departure to demand the
whole investigation be abandoned, charging that the rights
council was an “anti-Israel body”.
“After the resignation of the
committee chairman who was
biased against Israel, the report that was written at the behest of the UN Human Rights
Council—an anti-Israel body,
the decisions of which prove it
has nothing to do with human
rights—needs to be shelved,”
Netanyahu said.
“This is the same council that
in 2014 made more decisions
against Israel than against Iran,
Syria and North Korea combined.”
The Palestinians said Netanyahu’s calls were an attempt to
intimidate UN investigators and
cloud the issue.
“This (resignation) is a minor
issue. Israel makes a habit of using whatever means they can to
attack, defame, discredit and
intimidate,” senior PLO official
Hanan Ashrawi said.
Employees process data on their laptops at Unit One in Gaza City.
IT company in Gaza has
Google-sized aspirations
is company may not rival Google or German
software maker SAP yet,
but Gaza-based IT entrepreneur
Saady Lozon has plans to change
In nine years, Lozon and his
partner Ahmed Abu Shaban
have transformed their firm,
Unit One, from a tiny outfit in
a single room in the blockaded
Gaza Strip into a successful
business with clients in Europe,
the United States and the Arab
They can’t leave Gaza easily,
but they can develop applications for web and mobile devices
online and provide international
clients with data-management
services, competing with firms
in India and elsewhere.
“We have managed to knock
a hole in the wall of the blockade,” Lozon, 33, said of the
company, which will soon expand to more than 60 employees from 13, the majority women. “We deliver in time, just as
the client wishes.”
Lozon and Abu Shaban came
up with the idea after graduating with degrees in computer
science. Lozon worked briefly as
an IT contractor for the United
Nations and quickly realised he
would rather run a company of
his own.
They won their first client
after making a pitch via Skype
and offering a free trial. They
borrowed money from friends
to buy computers and slowly expanded. The firm now occupies
two apartments on the fifth floor
of a building in a smart district
of Gaza overlooking the Mediterranean.
Protest against land grab
At the offices, dozens of women, most wearing headscarves,
are busy at work, one group entering data on global trademarks
for a company in the Netherlands.
Initially Unit One was focused on software development
and building apps for iPhone
and Android, but now there
is a larger unit handling dataprocessing.
Along the way there have
been serious hurdles, including the war between Hamas
and Israel last July and August
which caused staffing and power
disruptions, and the fact banks
in Gaza cannot easily receive
transfers from abroad.
“It was difficult at the beginning,” said Lozon. “In 2006,
when the blockade started, we
had to open an account in the
West Bank,” he said.
Israel imposed a blockade on
Probe ordered into
Palestinian cartoon
A man hangs a Palestinian flag as others erect the steel frames of a tent on land that they said was confiscated by Israel, during a
protest against land confiscations near the West Bank town of Abu Dis near Jerusalem yesterday.
Gaza after Hamas won power
in 2006. Both Egypt and Israel
continue to impose tight controls on the movement of goods
and people in and out of the enclave, where 1.8mn people live.
Lozon said the Gaza war had
been particularly problematic in
an industry where success depends on quick delivery.
“We are trying to regain trust,”
he said. “We are telling everyone
that Gaza can do the job regardless of the obstacles.”
Asked about finances, Lozon
declines to go into detail, but
says the company is profitable
and expanding. When he advertised for 10 new jobs, he got 400
“We are working to be like
Google,” he said with confidence. “I hope to make Unit One
like Google for the people of
Gaza, not only for business but
also for entertainment.”
alestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered
an investigation into a
cartoon apparently depicting
Prophet Muhammad in an official Palestinian newspaper.
The move came less than a
month after Abbas joined world
leaders in a march for free speech
in Paris following a deadly attack by
Islamist gunmen on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which
had caricatured Muhammad.
A drawing in the West Bankbased newspaper Al Hayat alJadidah on Sunday showed a
robed man standing astride
Earth and reaching into a heartshaped pouch to sow seeds of
love around the world. The caption reads: “Our Prophet Muhammad”.
Artist Mohamed Sabanneh
said he meant no harm. The figure was not Muhammad but “a
symbol of humanity enlightened
by what the Prophet Muhammad
brought”, he wrote on Facebook.
In a report late on Monday, the
official Palestinian news agency
Wafa said Abbas had ordered “an
immediate investigation”.
It quoted him citing “the need
to take deterrent action against
those responsible for this terrible
mistake, out of respect for sacred
religious symbols and foremost
among them the prophets”.
Sabaaneh, one of the most
prominent Palestinian cartoonists in a society that has long
prized them as incisive critics of
Israel, has faced free speech controversy before.
Imprisoned by Israel for five
months and fined last year for
“being in contact with hostile
parties”, Sabaaneh and his backers said Israel sought to silence
his mordant cartoons.
No public threats have been
made against Sabaaneh, who
thanked his supporters online.
“Despite facing a committee of
inquiry, I love this country,” he
wrote yesterday.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Shoppers walk past crocodiles for sale at
a market in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, where
markets sell as food a variety of animals,
including pangolins, monkeys and crocodiles.
Cleric, undertaker fall into
grave at S Africa funeral
Mugabe can come to
Europe ‘as AU head’
Burundi rights groups
protest jail for radio chief
16 killed in north Nigeria
bus-truck collision
A church minister, the undertaker and several
pallbearers fell into a grave during the funeral
of a young man in the town of Bethlehem,
in central South Africa, local media reported
yesterday. A witness told the Afrikaans
newspaper Volksblad that shortly after the
coffin was lowered into the ground, a wooden
plank on the edge of the burial pit snapped,
sending the undertaker tumbling into the
grave. The minister then slipped and fell into
the grave, followed by several pallbearers. They
were helped out of the grave by mourners. The
undertaker confirmed the incident to the paper,
but refused to give details.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe can
visit the EU in his capacity as new head of
the African Union despite a long-standing
travel ban by Brussels. “This ban will be lifted
when he is travelling under his African Union
chairmanship capacity,” European Commission
spokeswoman Catherine Ray said. Asked if
that would also apply to Mugabe’s wife if she
accompanied him, Ray said she would have
to check. The EU issued a special invitation
for Mugabe to attend the EU-Africa summit
in Brussels last year but he turned it down in
disgust when his wife Grace was denied a visa
to travel with him.
Some 150 journalists and civil rights activists in
Burundi demonstrated yesterday to demand
the release of a radio station boss accused of
complicity in the murder of three Italian nuns. Bob
Rugurika, director of the popular African Public
Radio, was arrested in January after broadcasting
the purported confession of a man claiming he was
one of the killers. Protesters outside the courthouse
in the capital Bujumbura defied an order from the
mayor not to assemble, but police allowed their
demonstration to go ahead. “We are here to...
seek justice and freedom for Bob Rugurika, who is
unjustly imprisoned,” said Patrick Nduwimana, from
Burundi’s radio journalists association.
Sixteen people were killed and 35 injured
when a passenger bus collided with a
truck on a road in northern Nigeria’s
Yobe State, a senior road safety official
has said. “Sixteen people died in the accident
and 35 others were injured,” Abdullahi
Galambi, deputy head of the Federal Road
Safety Commission in the state told AFP. He
said the accident occurred near the village
of Dogon Kuka. The driver of the bus “lost
control and veered off the road after one of
the tyres burst,” he said. The truck had been
transporting aid for people displaced by Boko
Haram violence in Maiduguri, he added.
Lessons to learn!
Chadian troops
enter Nigeria to
fend off Boko
Haram attacks
had yesterday sent ground
troops into Nigeria for the first
time to fight Boko Haram in a
clear sign of increased regional pressure on the Islamist rebels after weeks
of surging violence.
For almost an hour, Chadian warplanes struck Boko Haram positions,
then armoured vehicles rolled across
the bridge linking Fotokol town in
Cameroon with Gamboru in Nigeria,
clearing the way for the infantry.
The action comes after the African
Union last week backed a new fivenation, 7,500-strong force to take on
Boko Haram because of growing fears
about its threat to regional security.
Boko Haram, which has been waging a bloody insurgency in Nigeria
since 2009, has in the last six months
seized dozens of towns and villages in
the northeast and stepped up attacks
in neighbouring nations.
The upsurge in violence has been
attributed to its aim of disrupting Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary
elections on February 14, which are
shaping up as a close race between
President Goodluck Jonathan and the
main opposition.
Chad’s military has conducted days
of air strikes against the armed extremists, while waiting for authorisation to operate on the ground in Nigeria via Cameroon, which has faced
attack from Boko Haram.
The entire Chadian contingent of
about 2,000 troops had crossed the
frontier by midday without a shot being fired, said an AFP correspondent in
Chadian forces were also deployed
near two villages in Niger just across
the border from Nigeria.
“A contingent of about 400 vehicles and tanks is stationed between
Mamori and Bosso,” local private radio
Anfani reported.
Chadian soldiers have also been deployed at Daboa in the Lake Chad area
where the borders of Nigeria, Chad
and Niger converge.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby had
sent soldiers to Cameroon in midJanuary to assist troops from Yaounde
fighting increasing incursions in the
country’s far northeast.
N’Djamena was already part of a
long-standing regional force with Niger and Nigeria in the Lake Chad area
whose mandate was extended to counter-insurgency operations.
But that force had been assumed to
be moribund after Boko Haram overran the multinational base in Baga,
northern Borno, on January 3, in an attack that also left hundreds of civilians
feared dead.
Nigerian authorities said late on
Monday that Gamboru, on the eastern fringe of Borno state, had been reclaimed after three days of air strikes
by Chadian warplanes.
A Chadian army officer, who asked
to remain anonymous, said Boko Haram fighters were “in the whole town,
hiding in the houses, and they have
posted snipers everywhere”.
The Nigerian army, which has been
criticised for failing to crush the sixyear insurgency, had also recaptured
Mafa, Mallam Fatori, Abadam and
Marte towns, the government in Abuja
Previous operations in the northeast
had liberated 11 towns in Adamawa
state, to the southeast of Borno, and
two in Yobe state to the west, national
security spokesman Mike Omeri added.
Boko Haram, which bitterly opposes
Western education and seeks to establish a broad caliphate under strict Islamic law, still controls six regions in
Adamawa state.
On Sunday, Nigerian troops repelled
a Boko Haram assault on the Borno
state capital, Maiduguri, for the second time in a week.
The city, where Boko Haram was
founded in 2002 and which is currently swollen by hundreds of thousands of
refugees from the violence, is considered one of the few places where voting could feasibly take place on February 14.
On Monday, Jonathan escaped a
suspected suicide bomb attack after he
left a campaign rally in Gombe in the
The target of the attack remained
unclear but rescue workers and health
staff said 18 people wounded in a car
park were taken to hospital with the
bodies of two women believed to be
Welcome visitor
German President
Joachim Gauck
greets Tanzanian
students on his
arrival in Dar es
Salaam yesterday.
Gauck is in
Tanzania for a
five-day state visit.
Kenyan teachers demonstrate outside Parliament in Nairobi, refusing to go back to their workplaces and asking to
be reassigned to other regions, citing insecurity in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, some 700km north of the capital.
Some 200 teachers working in northeastern Kenya, where 20 teachers were killed last November by an Islamist
commando, demonstrated in Nairobi to demand reassignment elsewhere in the country.
Harare forced flood-hit
into state project: HRW
he Zimbabwe government used
violence and restricted humanitarian aid to force about 20,000
flood victims to resettle on tiny plots
earmarked for a sugarcane plantation,
Human Rights Watch said yesterday.
The one-hectare plots are on a farm
that has close links to President Robert
Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party, the
rights group said in a 57-page report.
Under the government’s plans, the
flood victims are required to grow
sugarcane on Nuanetsi Ranch in the
southeastern Masvingo province to
contribute to a government-owned
ethanol project.
“The Zimbabwean government has
stopped at nothing to coerce 20,000 flood
victims to accept a resettlement package
that provides labour for a government
project, but leaves the flood victims utterly destitute,” HRW’s Dewa Mavhinga.
“The Zimbabwean government should
immediately give the victims adequate
aid without conditions and compensate
them fairly for their losses.”
Mavhinga told a news conference that
the villagers were displaced from their
homes a year ago when floods hit the
Tokwe-Mukorsi dam construction area,
in Masvingo province. Mugabe declared
the floods a national disaster and appealed for $20mn from donor agencies
to assist in relocating the villagers.
Despite promises of compensation
and new houses for the displaced villagers, nothing has been done, HRW said.
“They (villagers) do not have access to
adequate food, shelter, sanitation and
potable water,” Mavhinga said, adding
that the villagers were living in tents.
The massive Tokwe-Mukorsi dam
project, which began more than a decade ago, is near completion and is ex-
pected to assist in power generation
and irrigation projects.
Some of the flood victims were already slated for resettlement prior to
the emergency, but had resisted moving without receiving fair compensation for their property.
“The government used violence and
intimidation to quell protests, and restricted food distribution and health
and education services to those who
refused to accept government resettlement plans,” the report said.
The flood victims told HRW the new
plots are too small to support their
families and that they are being given
no choice but to grow sugarcane for a
project that will not be fully operational for seven years.
HRW said the circumstances surrounding the floods were “suspicious”,
suggesting that they could have been
prevented by letting out water downstream.
Togo election set for mid-April: minister
ogo’s presidential election will
be held in mid-April, a minister
said yesterday, clarifying a constitutional court ruling on the date of
the vote. The cabinet is expected to set
the date based on proposals from the
national election commission, the minister for territorial administration, Gilbert Balawa, told AFP.
A statement from Togo’s constitutional
court on Monday was interpreted to mean
that voting had to take place no later than
March 5, a timeline that opposition leader
Jean-Pierre Fabre said was “materially
impossible to respect”. But yesterday, the
court issued a second statement to clarify
that in fact only the date of the election had
to be set by March 5.
President Faure Gnassingbe’s government then announced that the vote
would be held by mid-April. Gnassingbe
has been in power since the 2005 death of
his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema,
who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.
The opposition has been pushing for
a change to the country’s constitution
to limit a president to two, five-year
terms. There is currently no limit.
Lawmakers are currently debating a
constitutional reform bill that would
bar the 48-year-old head of state from
seeking re-election for a third term. He
has not yet declared his candidacy.
A first draft of the bill was rejected in
June by parliament, which is dominated
by the president’s ruling Rally of the
Togolese People.
The situation in Togo is slightly different to some other African nations
where presidents have tried, and often
succeeded, in rewriting their countries’
constitutions to get rid of term limits.
However, it does follow a pattern of resistance in some African countries of allowing their leaders to stay in power indefinitely. Protests gripped the Democratic
Republic of Congo over recent weeks after
opposition saw an election law as a way for
President Joseph Kabila to extend his term
in office. Burkina Faso’s president Blaise
Compaore was chased from power last
year when he tried to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.
Race row sparks probe at private schools in SA
outh African education
and human rights authorities said yesterday they had
launched investigations into racism at private schools after parents at one school complained
that black and white pupils were
The probe was ordered after 30
parents of children at Curro Foundation School - a pre-primary
school in Pretoria wrote a petition
last month condemning the splitting of classes based on race.
“The sector needs to be regulated,” said Panyaza Lesufi, the
provincial education minister
for Gauteng, the country’s most
populous province which houses
the economic hub Johannesburg
and the capital Pretoria.
“I will not allow any child to be
reminded about where we came
from,” said Lesufi.
Under South Africa’s former
apartheid system, which ended
with the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, racial
segregation was the norm in all
walks of life.
Lesufi said he had been inundated by complaints of racism at
schools since the Curro case was
exposed last week, and threatened to deregister any offending
Private schools are increasingly popular in South Africa among
the middle classes who can afford
what they consider to be superior
education to that offered by government schools.
The official South African Human Rights Commission has
launched a parallel probe into the
Pretoria-based school.
“It is concerning to us as the
Human Rights Commission that
children will be segregated based
on the colour of their skin in the
new South Africa,” commission
spokesman Isaac Mangena told
He said the school had promised to undertake “immediate reforms - in essence conceding to
... the allegations of segregation.”
The rights watchdog sent officials yesterday to the school
“to monitor the commitment
of reintegrating black and white
The school’s holding company
Curro Holdings, which owns 42
schools with around 36,000 pupils across the country, last week
denied the racism allegations
and suggested children had been
separated for reasons of “culture”.
But the group of schools chief
operating officer Andries Greyling later said the word “culture”
had been misunderstood. “We
never meant culture in the way it
was perceived,” said Greyling.
Group CEO Chris van der Merwe said “Curro does not support
any form of racial segregation in
its schools.”
In response to charges that
Curro employed only white
teachers at the Pretoria school,
Greyling said: “We are struggling
to get teachers of colour to apply
at Curro”.
The Human Rights Commission said that despite the end of
apartheid 20 years ago, “racism
is widespread and most of the
complaints we are dealing with
are around racism”.
The Curro furore has ignited
mixed views from parents of the
children at the school.
Thinus Pienaar, who is white,
defended the splitting of classes
saying language was the reason
behind the separation.
“It was never a question of
putting black people in one
class and white people in another class. It was a question of
putting language parameters in
place,” he told AFP after dropping off his child at the school
He suggested blacks prefer
their children to be educated in
English while some whites would
opt for Afrikaans.
But Bonolo Sekgwe, a black
parent, opposed the separation
of classes because it went against
the spirit of a free South Africa.
“We are building a democratic
country, our neighbours are all
different colours at home, so why
come to school and segregate
them. What are we teaching our
kids? It is a problem,” she told
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Cuba envoy sounds
warning on talks
There are hurdles to cross
before ties are normalised
uba has warned the United States that it wants
American diplomats to
scale back aid for Cuban dissidents before the two countries
can reopen embassies in each
other’s capitals.
The long-time adversaries
are negotiating the restoration
of diplomatic relations as a first
step toward reversing more than
five decades of confrontation.
Officials for both governments
met in Havana in January and a
second round of talks is expected
to be held in Washington this
But Cuba’s lead negotiator
said in an interview broadcast on
state television that if the United
States wants free movement for
its diplomats in Cuba, it must
stop using them to support the
political opposition.
“The way those (US) diplomats act should change in terms
of stimulating, organising, training, supplying and financing elements within our country that
act against the interests of ... the
government of the Cuban people,” Josefina Vidal said.
“The total freedom of movement, which the US side is posing, is tied to a change in the
behavior of its diplomatic mission and its officials,” said Vidal,
Cuba’s top official for US affairs.
Washington has long criticised
the communist government for
repressing opponents of the
one-party system. While public
support for dissidents is limited,
A woman wearing a US flag leggings in Havana yesterday.
they receive plenty of attention
from US and Western diplomats.
The United States says it supports Cuban activists who exercise their right to freedom of
The restoration of diplomatic ties could happen before
a regional summit in Panama in
April, when president Barack
Obama and Cuban president
Raul Castro would meet for the
first time since shaking hands at
the funeral of Nelson Mandela in
December 2013.
Obama and Castro spoke on
the phone the day before their
separate but simultaneous announcements on December 17
that they would attempt to end
their Cold War-era hostilities.
The warning by Vidal suggested
there were obstacles to restoring
diplomatic ties, which has been
seen as a relatively easy first step
before the two sides try to resolve
deeper differences on matters
such as human rights and the US
economic embargo of Cuba.
Vidal said the conduct of Cuban diplomats in Washington was
“impeccable”, while suggesting
the Americans were meddling in
internal Cuban affairs.
“Matters of the internal affairs
in Cuba are not negotiable,” Vidal
said. “Nor are we going to negotiate matters of an internal nature
regarding Cuban sovereignty in
exchange for lifting the embargo.
Beyond that, everything else is a
process of negotiation.”
The United States won’t curtail its support for democracy
and human rights activists in
Cuba as part of any agreement
to restore embassies between
the two countries after a halfcentury interruption, the top US
diplomat for Latin America said
But assistant secretary of state
for western hemisphere affairs
Roberta Jacobson did say that
more US-Cuba talks on re-establishing full diplomatic relations were planned for later this
Testifying at the first senate
hearing chaired by senator Marco
Rubio, a Cuban-American and
likely presidential candidate,
Jacobson faced a mix of policy
and political questions. Beyond
the packed gallery, the sizeable presence of television media from Rubio’s home state of
Florida was unusual for a senate
foreign relations subcommittee
Rubio asked Jacobson and
State Department human rights
chief Tom Malinowski if they
would be willing to sacrifice human rights in an embassy agreement. He read from an interview
that Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top
negotiator, gave.
“We would not curtail the
activities we’re doing now,”
Jacobson answered. When Rubio pressed her for a firm commitment, she said she couldn’t
imagine a US embassy operating
in Havana under such conditions
and suggested that Vidal’s comments may have been more posturing than an actual negotiating
Jacobson’s trip to Havana last
month made her the highest-level US official to visit Cuban capital in more than three decades.
The talks encompassed the details of reconstituting embassies
in each other’s capitals, managing migration flows and the much
larger process of normalising ties
between governments with unresolved issues ranging from fugitives to financial claims.
Mayor de Blasio vows to make
New York city more affordable
New York
ew York City mayor Bill de Blasio
plans to make it compulsory for developers to include cheaper, affordable apartments if they build in newly rezoned
parts of the city, he said in his second annual
State of the City speech yesterday.
De Blasio also said the city will triple the
money it spends on providing legal services
to tenants to $36mn in the hope of making it
harder for landlords to force out older, poorer
tenants in favour of new ones willing to pay
“New York risks taking on the qualities of
a gated community, a place defined by exclusivity rather than opportunity,” de Blasio
said onstage at Baruch College in Manhattan
in remarks he sometimes paused to repeat in
The mayor, whose remarks were dominated by the topic of affordable housing in
one of the most expensive cities in the United
States, said 56% New York tenants spent
more than 30% of their income on rent last
De Blasio, a liberal Democrat, took office
13 months ago after criticising his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for creating a “Tale
of Two Cities” divided by inequality over his
12 years in power. Bloomberg offered tax incentives to developers to include affordable
homes in their buildings, but it was generally
Last year, de Blasio launched an ambitious
expansion of pre-kindergarten, or “pre-K,”
for more than 50,000 young children last
year, fulfilling one of his main campaign
He has pledged to “build and preserve”
200,000 affordable homes in the coming
decade. Bloomberg, using similar language,
promised to “create or preserve” 165,000 affordable homes over his tenure, and ended up
building about 50,000.
De Blasio’s office has mulled different ways
of luring developers with generous, decadeslong tax breaks.
The mayor has also been grappling with his
campaign promise to mend frayed relations
between police and black and Latino New
Yorkers, who were stopped and frisked by the
police in disproportionate numbers under
the previous administration.
Many police officers have been angered by
de Blasio’s support of critics of police practices, and have engaged in open insubordination by turning their backs on the mayor at
public events and embarking on a temporary New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at Baruch
work slowdown in December.
College in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
Senate row
hits funding
of homeland
he US Senate is to vote
on whether to advance
a controversial Republican bill that funds homeland
security but rolls back president Barack Obama’s immigration plan, with Democrats
revolting against the measure.
In December, lawmakers
funded all federal departments
through the end of fiscal year
2015 except for the Department
of Homeland Security, which
it funded only through February 27 so the new Republicancontrolled Congress could
put brakes on Obama’s plan
to shield millions of undocumented workers from deportation.
The subsequent battle over
DHS funding has become one
of the most turbulent congressional debates of 2015, with Republicans irate over what they
describe as presidential overreach, and most Democrats
lining up behind Obama, who
has threatened to veto the legislation.
Last month, the House
passed the bill funding DHS
through September, but attached five riders that would
strip Obama’s authority to carry out his unilateral immigration action.
Should the Senate fail to follow suit, lawmakers will be
faced with forging a compromise in barely three weeks, or
see parts of the department
that oversees border security,
cyberterrorism prevention and
the US Secret Service which
protects the president go into
partial shutdown.
The US-Mexico border wall in
Calexico, California.
Senate majority leader Mitch
McConnell acknowledged the
vote was largely about challenging Democrats and their
support for the president while
he “repeatedly reached beyond
his authority”.
“The truth is the latest power grab isn’t really about immigration reform; it’s about making an already-broken system
even more broken,” McConnell
“The question is, do Democrats agree with the president?
Well, we’ll soon find out.”
Republicans, who hold 54
of the Senate’s 100 seats, need
60 votes to advance the measure.
Democrats oppose the bill’s
“poison pill” immigration inserts, and insist on passing a
clean DHS funding bill.
“Take off the riders, take
off the political extraneous
things,” number two Senate
Democrat Dick Durbin said.
“It is incredible to me that
we have refused to provide the
funds that the DHS needs to
keep America safe.”
The Democratic Senate caucus was meeting Tuesday before the roll call to discuss how
to vote on the measure.
Pilot was taking
‘selfies’ before crash
he pilot of a small plane
was taking selfie pictures
with a cellphone on a series of short flights around a
Colorado airport in 2014 before
he crashed on one of the jaunts,
killing himself and a passenger,
federal investigators found.
The National Transportation
Safety Board said the 29-yearold pilot of the Cessna 150K
plane lost control in the crash
near Watkins, Colorado.
“Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction
due to his cellphone use while
manoeuvring at low altitude,”
the NTSB said in a report issued last week.
The Adams County coroner’s
office has identified the pilot as
Amritpal Singh and the passenger as 31-year-old Jatinder
Singh. It was unclear whether
the two were related.
The wreckage of the crashed
A GoPro camera was mounted on the windshield of the
plane facing into the cockpit,
so it captured the actions of
the pilot and his passengers on
a series of short flights around
the Front Range Airport, which
is less than 30 miles east of
Denver, the NTSB report said.
The GoPro camera did not
capture the flight that resulted
in the crash, but in recordings
of previous flights that day the
pilot and a number of his passengers were seen taking selfie
pictures on their cellphones
and the pilot was observed texting on his phone, the NTSB
report said.
Mass murderer Manson not marrying after all
S mass murderer Charles Manson
is not getting married after all -- at
least not with the wedding licence he
secured late last year, a prisons official said.
The 80-year-old Manson was granted permission last November to wed
26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, described in US media as a slender brunette,
who has been visiting him in prison.
But the 90-day license expires this
week, and the couple can only wed during
weekend visiting hours, which they have
not yet done, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.
“The licence expires on February 5. Inmate weddings must happen during visiting times. There are no visiting times
scheduled between now and February 5,”
spokesman Jeffrey Callison told AFP.
Manson has been in prison for more
than four decades after the 1969 killings,
which included the brutal murder of director Roman Polanski’s actress wife,
Sharon Tate, who was eight-and-a-half
months pregnant.
But Burton, who also calls herself Star,
said last year that she and Manson were
madly in love and already consider themselves married.
“I’m completely with him, and he’s
completely with me. It’s what I was born
for, you know. I don’t know what else to
say,” she told CNN in August of the now
gray-haired killer, who has a swastika tattooed on his forehead.
She said she had been following Manson’s “philosophy” since she was a teenager and moved to Corcoran, where the
convicted murderer is detained, to be
closer to him.
Manson was married twice before he
was jailed, first to Rosalie Jean Willis from
1955 to 1958, and later to Candy Stevens
between 1959 and 1963.
He was sentenced to death in 1969 along
with four of his disciples for having led the
killing of seven people, but their sentences
were later commuted to life in prison.
Manson applied for parole in 2012 but
was denied release and is not eligible to
apply again until 2027.
Manson headed an apocalyptic cult
that committed murders in upscale,
mostly white neighborhoods of Los Angeles in order to blame the crimes on African Americans, in the hope of sparking
what he termed a “Helter Skelter” race
The California prisons spokesman said
he did not know if Manson or Burton
would apply for another marriage license.
“What inmate Manson and his fiancee
choose to do is entirely a matter for them
to decide,” Callison said.
Charles Manson (L) taken during his trial in March, 1971, and on March 18, 2009 at California State Prison.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Canadian foreign
minister resigns
Baird’s hardline stance on conflict
zones may have contributed to his fall
oreign affairs minister John Baird,
who carved out a more assertive role
for Canada on major international
issues, announced yesterday he is stepping down and will not stand in upcoming
The surprise departure of one of Prime
Minister Stephen Harper’s most trusted
lieutenants is a major loss as the Conservative leader seeks a fourth mandate to
govern in October elections.
Baird told parliament he spoke to Harper Monday night and “informed him I was
standing down from cabinet”.
“I expressed my intention not to run
in the next general election... and I also
expressed my intention to stand down
as member of parliament... in the weeks
ahead,” he said.
The 45-year-old Baird gave no reason
for his decision to step down after a 20year career in Canadian politics in which
he held 10 ministerial posts at both the
federal level and in Ontario.
“John has always been willing to do a
lot of heavy lifting in my various cabinets
and has assumed daunting new responsibilities with unsurpassed energy, commitment and professionalism, never losing
sight of the fact that he was serving the
Canadian people,” Harper said in a statement.
As foreign minister, Baird firmed up Ottawa’s staunch support of Israel, expanded Canada’s military reach abroad and
aligned development aid with the nation’s
trade priorities.
He also has taken on Russia over the
Ukraine conflict, the Islamic State and the
talks in Iran
cited during
terror trial
Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird (C) receives a standing ovation before announcing his resignation in the house of commons
on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Ebola crises. Most recently he worked for
the release of Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy from an Egyptian
jail—which Baird said Monday was “imminent”.
A successor was not immediately announced. Possible contenders include jobs
minister Jason Kenney or transport minister Lisa Raitt.
Baird’s departure from the cabinet follows that of finance minister Jim Flaherty
last year, who died a short time later.
Their absence leaves Harper without
two close collaborators as his party faces
elections in October.
Baird urged pundits not to underestimate Harper, however.
“When many others counted him out,
I believed in this prime minister and I
continue to believe in him today, all these
years later,” he said.
“There is no better person to lead our
country into its 150th year. He is one of our
country’s great leaders,” he added.
A former environment and transport
minister, Baird had been in Parliament
since 2006. Friends and foes in the House
called him “Rusty”. In the press he earned
the nickname “Bulldog” for his ardent
and eloquent defence of government
“I was perhaps just a little naive, driven
by ideology, defined by partisanship, at the
age of 25” at the start of his political career.
He said he has since learned, “You need,
instead, to be defined by your values.”
Baird did not say what he planned to do
next, but it was widely assumed he would
take a job in the private sector.
Devil’s Brigade
wo men charged with
plotting to derail a train
travelling from New
York to Toronto had their plans
foiled by an undercover police
officer who convinced them he
could help pull off the attack,
jurors heard at the opening of
their trial on Monday.
One of the men, Tunisian
Chiheb Esseghaier, told the
undercover officer that he
had met with “mujahideen”
in Iran and had a plan in place
with a “Palestinian brother,”
a reference to the second defendant, Raed Jaser, the court
In opening remarks, prosecuting lawyers said the two
were motivated by Islamic extremism and wanted to murder
people to instil fear, and so that
Canada and the United States
would remove their troops
from Muslim lands.
The pair also spoke of other
plans, including the use of a
sniper to target political leaders, the undercover officer
“We don’t want the sheep.
We want the wolf,” Jaser told
the undercover officer and Esseghaier in September 2012,
making reference to the Group
of 8 summits often held in
The two men were arrested
in April 2013, and police at the
time said the plot was backed
by Al Qaeda. Each of the men
faces five terrorism-related
charges, and not guilty pleas
have been entered on their
The undercover officer,
whose identity is the subject
of a publication ban, told the
Toronto court that he befriended Esseghaier on a flight
from Houston to Santa Clara,
California, in June, 2012.
He told Esseghaier he
worked for his uncle in a highend real estate business. On
the 3-1/2 hour flight they
talked about “a great deal of
religion, some politics,” said
the officer, the first witness put
on the stand by prosecutors in
a trial that is expected to last
six to eight weeks.
The agent visited Esseghaier in Montreal, where he
was living while a PhD student in medical biotechnology.
At Esseghaier’s one-bedroom apartment, the agent
sat on a mattress in the living room while Esseghaier
told him to turn off his mobile phones and then showed
him visas and stamps for his
recent trips to Iran, the court
The Muslim guerilla fighters
he meet with in Iran told Esseghaier to return to Canada,
the officer said.
The pair later visited potential sites for the attack on at
least two occasions, prosecutors said.
Jaser’s father and lawyer
both declined to comment
when approached by Reuters.
Esseghaier has refused to acknowledge the authority of the
court and has not retained legal counsel.
Suspect held
Canadian police said yesterday
they arrested a suspect on
terrorism charges and would
reveal more details at 3pm ET
(2000 GMT).
A statement by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the
arrest had been made following
a national security criminal
Day care
shuts after
baby gets
Los Angeles
Personnel of the First Special Service Force (also known as the Devil’s Brigade) are briefed before setting out on a patrol at Anzio beachhead, Italy, April 20, 1944. The unit,
which will receive a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington laid the foundation for modern-day special forces units in the United States and Canada.
Ruling on BP fine over oil spill
months away, say lawyers
t may be months before a final verdict
is issued on the size of the fine BP Plc
will pay under the Clean Water Act for
its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, lawyers
said yesterday after the last phase of the
trial ended.
US district court judge Carl Barbier in
New Orleans, Louisiana, is scheduled to
receive post-trial briefs from government
prosecutors and BP through April 24.
Barbier might rule before then although
a decision after all briefs are filed is more
likely, the lawyers said.
In arguments that wrapped up on Monday, BP tried to whittle away at $13.7bn
in potential fines it faces under the Clean
A slick created by the 2010 spill.
Water Act for the worst offshore disaster
in US history.
BP has said its fine should be modest
as it took extensive steps to mitigate the
disaster and that the defendant named in
the case, BP’s exploration and production
unit, known as BPXP, cannot afford a big
BP also said a drop of more than 50% in
oil prices since June has slashed BPXP’s
The government urged a fine at or near
the maximum.
Clean Water Act rules say when assigning penalties the court must look at BP’s
ability to pay, steps it took to clean up the
spill, and its history of past violations,
among other factors.
The Clean Water Act penalties would
come on top of more than $42bn the oil
major has set aside for cleanup, compensation and fines. About 810,000 barrels
were collected during cleanup.
Several billion dollars in potential fines
were avoided in January when Barbier put
the size of the spill at 3.19mn barrels. That
was well below the government’s estimate
of 4.09mn barrels, which could have led to
$17.6bn in fines.
All three phases of the trial, over the degree of negligence, the size of the spill, and
the size of the fine, have now concluded.
Under a “gross negligence” ruling Barbier issued in September, BP could be fined
a statutory limit of $4,300 for each barrel spilled, though he has authority to set
lower penalties.
BP has also filed motions saying the
maximum fine per barrel is in fact just
$3,000 because Congress never passed
laws to adjust it for inflation.
A simple “negligence” ruling, which BP
sought, caps the maximum fine at $1,100
per barrel.
day care centre at a
high school has been
closed after a baby enrolled in
the programme was diagnosed
with measles amid an outbreak
that has already infected more
than 100 people nationwide,
the Los Angeles Times reported
on Monday.
The infant was enrolled at
the child-care centre at Santa
Monica High School, where a
freshman baseball coach contracted measles last month,
the Times reported. It was not
immediately clear if the two
cases were related.
A spokeswoman for the
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified
School district could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters.
The spokeswoman told the
Times that the baby was under the age of 12 months and
therefore could not be immunised for measles.
She said that the district
was working with health officials to determine the extent
of exposure among other enrollees at the day care centre
and that it was not immediately clear when it would reopen, according to the newspaper.
The California Department of Public Health said
on Monday that 92 cases of
measles had been confirmed
in the state, up from 91 on
Fifty-nine of those cases
have been epidemiologically
linked to an outbreak that
public health officials believe
began when an infected person
visited Disneyland in Anaheim
in late December.
More than a dozen other
cases have been confirmed
in 13 other US states and in
Mexico. No deaths have been
The infant was enrolled
at the child-care
centre at Santa Monica
High School, where
a freshman baseball
coach contracted
measles last month
Measles was officially declared eliminated in the
United States in 2000 after
decades of intensive childhood vaccine efforts. But last
year the nation had its highest
number of measles cases in
two decades.
In addition to California,
since December cases of measles have been confirmed in
Arizona, Colorado, Illinois,
Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas,
Utah and Washington state, as
well as Mexico.
Most people recover within
a few weeks, although it can be
fatal in some cases.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Prayer time
Deaf community
struggles to be
heard in Cambodia
Phnom Penh
People pray during the annual Meak Bochea ceremony at the Oudong mountain in Kandal province yesterday. Cambodia celebrates the Buddhist festival of Meak Bochea on
the full moon day of the third lunar month for the veneration of Buddha and his teachings.
Junta chief slams rumours
govt behind bomb blasts
hailand’s junta chief yesterday said any suggestion his regime was behind twin bomb blasts outside
a Bangkok shopping mall was
“brain damaged” as the military
scrambles to reassure tourists
that the troubled kingdom is still
Two small homemade pipe
bombs detonated outside the
Siam Paragon mall on Sunday
evening slightly wounding two
The blasts were the first major
disruption to an uneasy peace
imposed after the military declared martial law and took over
in a coup last May.
The military have been rattled by remarks on social media
speculating that the explosions
— which came ten days after
the retroactive impeachment of
ousted Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra — help justify the
continued imposition of martial
“Some have countered that
this was work of the government
in order to maintain martial law.
They are brains damaged,” Prime
Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha,
who has appeared increasingly
gruff in recent days, told reporters.
But he added: “If this was the
work of rogue policemen or soldiers they must be punished.”
Authorities say they are looking for two men seen on CCTV
shortly before the bombs deto-
nated. The explosions come at a
time of heightened political tension in the deeply divided nation
following the impeachment of
Yingluck by the country’s juntaappointed rubber stamp parliament — an event that left many
of her family’s “Red Shirt” supporters quietly seething.
Under marital law, political gatherings of more than
five people are banned and so
far Yingluck’s supporters have
stayed off the streets.
But the military have nonetheless ramped up their monitoring of critics, calling in a
string of prominent opposition
figures for “attitude adjustment” talks and threatening dissenters with financial ruin if they
speak out publicly.
The generals, who seized
power promising to end a turbulent decade pockmarked by
periods of intense political violence and coups, also fear that
renewed clashes could put off
tourists during the crucial peak
The tourism industry accounts for around 10% of an
economy that Thailand’s military rulers have struggled to
revive since seizing power with
exports and consumer spending
still weak.
Government figures released
yesterday showed Thailand
welcomed 2.65mn tourists in
January — traditionally one of its
busiest months.
The latest figures are a 15.9%
increase on the same month the
previous year when protests
against Yingluck Shinawatra’s
were at their height.
Thailand’s long-running political conflict broadly pits a
Bangkok-based middle class and
royalist elite, backed by parts
of the military and judiciary,
against rural and working-class
voters - many of whom are part
of the Red Shirt movement —
loyal to ousted former premier
Thaksin Shinawatra.
Parties affiliated with or led by
the Shinawatra family have won
every election since 2001, in the
process facing two coups and
the disposal of three premiers
by Thailand’s interventionist
Small bomb blasts are not uncommon during times of heightened tension with all factions
accusing each other of resorting
to violence.
ight years ago, Thoeung
Sreytin’s daily routine
involved cleaning her
house, feeding the livestock
and collecting chicken eggs
for her grandmother in Kampot province, 150 kilometres
south-west of the Cambodian capital.
She would occasionally
meet her mother and three
siblings in Phnom Penh, but
telling her family how much
she missed and loved them
was impossible, because she
had no way to communicate.
“I hated to be alone,”
Thoeung Sreytin, who is now
32 and speaks sign language,
said through an interpreter.
“When people talked, I was
left behind, alone. I could
only see their gestures.”
“I really struggled, I only
stayed at home. It was like
living in jail. My mother did
not take me anywhere,” she
This predicament is typical of Cambodia’s estimated
51,000 deaf citizens, who
lack access to formal education and health services.
Their parents often assume
they are afflicted with mental
“They don’t really understand what it means to be
deaf,” said Charles Dittmeier,
director of the Deaf Development Project (DDP), which
provides informal education,
skills training and support to
Cambodia’s deaf community.
“Society does not understand them or their problems.
They are very much discriminated against. They are treated like an eight or nine-yearold. It is very difficult to be
deaf in Cambodia.”
Fewer than 2,000 deaf people in Cambodia, or around
4% of the deaf population,
are able to use sign language,
Dittmeier said.
“The other 49,000 deaf
people have never spoken to
their own parents,” he said.
“They have no written language, no sign language, they
have nothing.”
In Cambodia, deaf people
are referred to as “kor” in
Khmer, or “mute,” because
they cannot speak normally.
Dittmeier’s field workers
have discovered that many
families do not even give
their deaf children names.
Thoeung Sreytin’s experience shows one way out of
that anonymity. She studied
sign language for two years in
2007, and later trained to be a
sign language teacher herself.
Now, she teaches and works
as a co-ordinator at DDP, and
her life is moving toward a
greater sense of normalcy.
Socially, she is less isolated,
and her options are increasing.Progress on a national
scale is slow, but moving in
the right direction. In 2005,
the government launched
the country’s first news programme accompanied with
sign language.
In 2011, sign language
teachers were given formal
government recognition.
Cambodia’s deaf community is working to establish
the Cambodia Deaf Association, which hopes to bring
deaf people together to advocate for more rights and acceptance.
Still, communication between the deaf and the rest of
society remains limited.
“We have tried to invite
the parents to learn sign language, but many said they
don’t have time,” said Hang
Kimchhorn, a director of
Krour Sar Thmey, the other
main organisation trying to
help Cambodia’s deaf.
Police arrest two over
gold theft in Thailand
olice nabbed two men
yesterday for allegedly
stealing gold ornaments
worth 21mn Thai baht.
Suriyachan Thaitanu, a new
employee of gold-ornament
factory Shining Gold, told police
that he plotted the robbery in
the hope of using the stolen gold
for his wedding ceremony and
clearing a football-gambling
debt, The Nation reported.
His accomplice was Sompong Kamson. Police said Sompong, riding on a motorcycle,
shot at a vehicle transporting
the gold ornaments while it was
on its way to factory customers.
Carnival scenes as Malaysian Hindus mark festival
Batu Caves
ore than a million Hindus thronged temples
throughout Malaysia
yesterday to celebrate Thaipusam, a colourful annual religious festival in which many
display their devotion by piercing their bodies with hooks and
Celebrations in the capital
Kuala Lumpur centred, as they
have for 125 years, on the spectacular Batu Caves complex on
the city’s outskirts, which many
Hindus walked up to ten hours to
reach in an annual pilgrimage.
Bearing gifts for the deity Murugan, countless yellow-robed
devotees carried milk pots or coconuts -- the latter of which are
smashed as offerings.
Others took part in the 15-km
procession of a silver chariot
from a temple in the city centre to the caves — an important
religious site for Tamil Hindus
— capped by the final 272-step
climb to a temple in the limestone outcropping.
Celebrated also in India, Singapore and other areas with
significant Hindu Tamil communities, the festival is marked
with particular relish in multicultural Malaysia.
Many show their fervour by
bearing the elaborately decorated frames called “kavadi” that
can weigh as much as 100 kg and
Hindu devotees carry pots of milk on their heads while on their pilgrimage to the Batu Caves temple during Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Right: Devotees watch a cock fight in the Batu Caves temple during the festival.
are typically affixed to a person’s
body using sharp metal spikes
dug into their flesh in a form of
penance. “It’s my first time carrying a kavadi,” said Arulvendhan, a 30-year-old teacher, as he
prepared to pray before hoisting
the burden onto his body.
“I made a vow that I would
do this if my father’s health got
better and if my family had more
peace. My dad is much better
than before.”
About 1.6mn people visited
the Batu Caves, which also draws
tens of thousands of tourists eager to witness the carnival-like
Some swayed trance-like to
throbbing drumbeats and re-
ligious songs as friends and
relatives cheered them on. Others danced in deep trance-like
Thaipusam commemorates
the day when, according to Hindu mythology, the goddess Pavarthi gave her son Lord Murugan a lance to slay evil demons.
Prior to Thaipusam, devotees
will typically hold daily prayer
sessions, abstain from sex and
stick to a strict vegetarian diet
for weeks.
Many stalls sprouted outside
the caves where visitors could
have their heads shaved bald, another form of thanksgiving.
“I feel lighter of course,” Sashi
Vadivale, 32, said with a laugh as
he rubbed his smooth scalp.
“But seriously, I took a vow for
spiritual reasons and I’m feeling
satisfied for finishing this ritual.”
Dwayne Skjersven, a tourist
from Canada, said he was overwhelmed by the spectacle.
“I didn’t expect this. It’s so colourful and I love that everyone
is smiling and it’s great to see so
many families supporting their
relatives,” he said. With a population of 28mn people, Malaysia is
Muslim-majority but it also has
more than 2mn ethnic Indians.
Most are Hindus who originally
hail from Tamil areas of southern
India and who are descendants of
labourers brought in under British
colonial rule.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
A handout picture released yesterday by Rausu
town government of Japan’s self defence
troopers removing snow from the entrance of a
house on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
North Japan town buried
under six feet of snow
Deputy refused to give
Abbott loyalty pledge
Fiji to remove Union Jack
from flag: Bainimarama
China’s Internet population
hits 649mn, 86% on phones
Parts of northern Japan were digging out
yesterday from nearly 6ft (1.8m) of snow after a
massive winter storm dumped record amounts.
Around 50 troops were pressed into action in
Hokkaido to shovel paths to snow-blanketed
houses in Rausu on the eastern tip of the island.
The town was the worst-hit part of Japan when
a major snowstorm whacked into the country at
the weekend. The meteorological agency which
gave the snowfall figure warned of strong winds
and further snowfall still to come in the region.
“We are telling our residents to stay home if
possible,” a town official told AFP by telephone.
“It’s not safe.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott sought
a commitment from deputy party leader Julie
Bishop that she would not challenge him, Sky News
reported yesterday, a promise that the Foreign
Minister refused to give. At a meeting on Monday,
Abbott sought the promise from Foreign Minister
Bishop, Sky News reported. When asked about the
report on Australian television, Abbott declined
to refute the account. In the speech, dubbed by
some commentators as the most important of
his short tenure, Abbott said he believed he had
the full support of Bishop, who along with former
Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull, has been
touted as a potential replacement.
Fiji will remove the Union Jack from its flag
and replace it with a design that symbolises
the Pacific nation, Prime Minister Voreqe
Bainimarama said yesterday. Bainimarama
said the flag had served the country well since
independence in 1970 but was now outdated.
“We need to replace the symbols on our
existing flag that are out of date and no longer
relevant, including some anchored to our
colonial past,” he said. Fiji’s flag is light blue
with the Union Jack in the top left corner. A
national competition to design a new flag would
be held, with the aim of hoisting it on October
11, the 45th anniversary of independence.
China had 649mn Internet users by the end of
2014, with 557mn of those using handsets to
go online, a government report said yesterday,
as the world’s biggest smartphone market
continues its shift to mobile. While growth is
slowing, China’s total Internet population still
rose by 31mn in 2014, said the report by the
China Internet Network Information Center
(CNNIC). Growth in mobile internet users was
faster, at 57mn. Riding this wave are some of
China’s, and the world’s, biggest technology
companies. These include e-commerce group
Alibaba, social networking and video games firm
Tencent Holdings Ltd and search giant Baidu Inc.
2 dead in
mall blast
n explosion in an electrical transformer room at a shopping centre
in the west Australian city of Perth
has left two men dead and two others
badly burnt, authorities said yesterday.
Western Australia police said a
30-year-old man died at the scene while
three other men were taken to Royal
Perth Hospital with serious injuries.
“Tragically, one of the three men taken
to hospital has since passed away,” police
said in a statement.
Witnesses spoke of their horror at seeing the men, thought to be working in
an area near the electrical transformer,
come running out after the morning explosion.
“I came driving in and saw three people come running out... they were on
fire,” Jonathan McDonagh told Australian
Associated Press, saying he tried to help
the injured, taking off his shirt and using
it to put out the flames.
“I had the radio on and didn’t hear the
bang, but I saw a puff of smoke. One fella
was dead on the ground. I saw another moving around, obviously not OK. I gave him a
good helping hand, as much as I could.
“They were really burnt badly.”
Another witness Harry Barugh said he
thought at first a car had exploded.
“But it was a lot worse than that, it was
the worst sight I have ever seen in my
entire life,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It was just ‘whoosh’ and then there
were these guys just coming out and hitting the deck and then ripping their gear
A woman who suffered smoke inhalation was also taken to hospital while several other people were treated for shock
and smoke inhalation at the scene at the
Galleria shopping centre in the Perth
suburb of Morely.
Fire and emergency services cordoned
off the area with investigations into what
caused the blast under way.
“We believe that they possibly were
workers who were working within that
transformer area of the shopping centre,”
police inspector Rob Harrison said.
Murdered Japanese journalist’s peace tweet goes viral
A poignant tweet by murdered journalist
Kenji Goto on the virtue of being calm
was spreading rapidly on social media
yesterday, days after he was apparently
beheaded by Islamist militants.
“Close your eyes and remain patient.
It’s over once you get angry or yell. It is
almost like praying. Hating is not the role
of humans; judgement is God’s domain,”
Goto’s four-year-old tweet read.
“It was my Arab brothers who taught
me this,” he tweeted in Japanese on September 7, 2010.
By yesterday afternoon, the message
had been retweeted more than 26,000
times in Japanese, with English versions
also widely circulated.
Goto’s brutal killing by militants from
the Islamic State movement has provoked
an outpouring of emotion in Japan, a
country that previously considered itself
far removed from the violence that afflicts
Western nations facing off against Muslim
In a statement on Sunday, his mother
cautioned against this emotion becoming
destructive. “I believe this sorrow must
not create a chain of hatred,” said Junko
Goto’s killing was announced in a video
posted late Saturday by IS militants and
came a week after his friend and fellow
captive Haruna Yukawa was beheaded.
The 47-year-old freelance journalist,
who established his own video production
company in 1996, had supplied documentaries on the Middle East and other regions
to Japanese television networks.
Much of his work had focused on the
plight of children in war zones.
Fan Ping (centre), the wife of Du Shuanghua, cries after the funeral of her husband as her son holds up a portrait in Shanghai.
Beijing allows funerals for
Shanghai stampede victims
ne of the 36 funerals for the
victims of a New Year’s Eve
crush in Shanghai was held
yesterday, after authorities finally allowed the ceremonies to go ahead.
Du Shuanghua, 37, lay in an open
coffin at a funeral home in the city
centre as friends and relatives placed
flowers on both sides.
“I’m taking him back to his hometown tomorrow to let him rest in
peace,” his wife Fan Ping told AFP.
They had an eight-year-old son and
Du was the family’s only breadwinner.
New Year revellers flocked to the
Bund, Shanghai’s historic waterfront,
but massive overcrowding saw people trampled, severely tarnishing the
commercial hub’s image as the mainland’s most advanced city.
Questions were raised over authorities’ failure to enforce better
safety measures and several district
officials were dismissed from their
posts, although higher-level leaders
escaped responsibility.
In the meantime the families of the
victims were “isolated”, they said,
and funerals were blocked until an
official accident report was released
and compensation agreed.
The document was published two
weeks ago, along with an offer of
800,000 yuan ($131,000) for each
family. Those who accept the package
are being allowed to lay their loved
ones to rest, with some ceremonies
taking place this week.
Cai Jinjin on Monday attended the
funeral of her cousin Qi Xiaoyan, who
like most of the victims was a young
woman. Qi, a 21-year-old migrant,
had come to Shanghai from nearby
The Mao the merrier: boom for China leaders’ lookalikes
By Benjamin Haas, AFP
e has little interest in politics
and is no socialist fanatic, but Xu
Ruilin spends every free moment
practising how to speak, write, walk and
think like Mao Zedong.
The 58-year-old has an eerie resemblance to the founding father of Communist China, and is one of scores of
lookalike Chinese actors in ever increasing demand as production of historical
propaganda television shows and films
goes into overdrive.
Known as “texing yanyuan” - “special
type of actors” - each one portrays a particular departed leader in voice, looks and
style, akin to Elvis impersonators for famous Communists.
As well as Mao, their alter egos include
his right hand man Zhou Enlai, economic
reformer Deng Xiaoping and a host of
other top brass.
“Actors and directors told me for years I
should play Chairman Mao, but mostly I ignored them,” said Xu, who spent most of his
career in the theatre. “But these days there
are so many opportunities to play Mao.”
Even out of character, Xu has the Great
Helmsman’s hair and features. At work,
he completes the transformation with a
signature artificial chin mole, a grey Mao
suit - the trousers hiked far above the navel - and by chain-smoking cigarettes.
He is constantly working on his Hunan
Chinese actor Xu Ruilin poses at his
home in Liaocheng, Shandong province.
dialect, the provincial inflected Chinese
of Mao’s home, and the leader’s particular style of calligraphy, still used for the
masthead of the ruling party’s mouthpiece newspaper the People’s Daily.
Even Mao Xinyu, Mao’s corpulent
grandson and a major general in the People’s Liberation Army, has given him his
blessing, saying he was “very satisfied”
with his performance, Xu said.
The more fortunate actors get starring
screen roles, but most mimics are relegated, like their hip-gyrating Elvis brethren,
to playing to smaller audiences, renting
themselves out for corporate events, weddings and birthdays. “Company tours always start with a rousing speech and then
I’m treated like a visiting dignitary, like the
real Mao, during a tour,” said Xu, days after
an appearance at a battery factory.
The vast majority of Chinese television
historical dramas centre on the country’s recent past, often set during Japan’s
20th-century invasion and occupation,
and with Communist Party cadres always
the heroes. They have seen a marked increase since Xi took power, accounting
for roughly 44% of all Chinese shows
produced in 2013, according to statistics
from the State Administration of Press,
Publication, Radio, Film and Television
(SAPPRFT), the most recent available.
Most of the entries on one SAPPRFT
list of 127 “recommended television programmes for broadcast” leaked by Chinese
media last year were propaganda pieces,
with titles including “Deng Xiaoping at
History’s Crossroads”, “Zhu De, a Founding Father” and “We Are Party Members”.
Plot lines in other shows are also subject to the censors’ whim, which has seen
time travel and women falling in love with
more than one man banned as subjects,
along with wordplay and puns.
“Restrictions placed on most programmes make them very difficult to
produce, but anyone is completely free to
make anti-Japanese or historical shows,”
says Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai’s
Tongji University.
“In order to avoid spending a lot of
money only to have a programme censored, everyone’s making so-called historical shows because they have less restrictions and there’s less risk.”
The special actor concept was largely
an import from the Soviet Union, begin-
ning in the late 1970s in the wake of Mao’s
death and initially limited to one or two actors constantly reprising their roles. It has
expanded in tandem with the media landscape and been a boon for Guo Weihua, who
could be a twin of Zhou Enlai, but drives a
Mercedes and sips lattes at Starbucks.
“I used to play other parts, but now
there’s too many projects with Zhou Enlai I almost always play him,” said Guo,
52. “He has already gone into my bone
marrow, when I’m standing in front of a
camera, I am Zhou Enlai.” After appearing as Zhou in more than 70 television series and films, Guo would like to diversify
but is thoroughly typecast. “For Chinese
people of a certain age, we have a saying,”
he said. “Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai,
these two great men, were sent by God.”
In 1942, Mao himself said that art must
“serve the masses” and decried bourgeois
literature and art, adding that works attacking the Communist Party should be
severely criticised and repudiated.
President Xi takes a similar line. In October he said artists should spread “Chinese values” and not be “slaves” to the
market, nor “go astray while answering
the question of whom to serve”.
It is a question that even the lookalike
actors should be asking themselves, according to Professor Zhu, bemoaning the
abilities of some recent recruits.
“The newcomers that play Mao Zedong
these days, they haven’t read Mao’s biography, they haven’t read Mao’s writings,”
he said. “So how can they play him well?”
Anhui province just months ago for
“Dear sister, have a safe trip. I’m
sending you home... we will take care
of the rest for you,” Cai said in an online posting.
Speaking at his first press conference after the incident, Shanghai
Mayor Yang Xiong said the city would
improve safety measures in public
“After the 12.31 (December 31) incident, we have been asking ourselves
how to do our work better,” he told reporters last week. “We have to learn the
lesson the 12.31 accident taught us.”
Soldier gets death for
shooting spree
South Korean court-martial yesterday convicted
a soldier of the murder of
five comrades in a grenade and
gun attack and sentenced him to
death, a military official said, in
a case that raised questions over
compulsory military service.
The conscript, identified as
Sergeant Lim, killed five members of his unit and wounded
seven last June at an outpost near
the border with North Korea.
After a 24-hour stand-off with
troops and despite pleas by his
father to give himself up, Lim
shot himself in the abdomen before being captured and taken to
“The death penalty is inevitable for such a violent crime of
killing innocent comrades at the
point of a gun,” a military judge
was quoted by Yonhap News
Agency as saying.
A military official at the command post in Wonju, about two
hours east of Seoul where the
court-martial was held, confirmed the sentence.
Lim, in his early 20s, was described by an official as an “introvert” and the military said
there had been concerns over his
psychological health, but he was
deemed fit enough to be sent to
the outpost.
The military has been criticised for lax discipline in some
units and failure to prevent cases
where soldiers suffering personal
problems have attacked fellow
South Korea maintains a military of about 630,000, many
of them conscripts who serve
about two years of mandatory
The South is technically at war
with North Korea because they
only signed a truce to end their
1950-53 conflict, not a treaty.
In 2011, a South Korean marine
was sentenced to death for killing
four fellow soldiers in a shooting
A military court also handed
down the death penalty on a soldier for killing eight troops in a
2005 rampage.
The country last carried out
executions in December 1997,
when 23 people were hanged, according to the Justice Ministry.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Conservatives promise
veto for English lawmakers
Johnson rejects
move into US politics
Snow brings road
and rail misery
Leigh to receive
Bafta Fellowship
Staff at National Gallery
begin five-day strike
English lawmakers will be given a veto over
income tax and other matters only affecting
England under plans put forward by Prime Minister
David Cameron’s Conservatives yesterday. Both
the Conservatives and the opposition Labour want
to address the fact that Scottish parliamentarians
are allowed to vote on laws affecting only
England when English lawmakers cannot vote
on Scottish matters. Under the Conservative
plans, lawmakers from across the UK would get
to debate and vote on matters affecting only
England, but English lawmakers would decide
the detail of such measures and would have a
veto over the final law.
Boris Johnson has said he has no plans to try to
enter politics in the US if he finds his ambitions
thwarted in Britain. The London mayor is
theoretically eligible to become US President
because he was born in New York and holds an
American passport. But he told LBC radio: “I think
it unlikely I would be called upon to serve in that
office.” Asked whether he would consider a move
to the US if voters in Uxbridge and South Ruislip
reject him in May, Johnson said: “It’s true that I
was born in America. However, I haven’t lived
there since I was five years old and, much though I
admire America and love American culture, I think
my life and career is here in Britain.”
Rail and road travellers suffered a morning of
misery as snow and ice caused delays to train
services and widespread problems for motorists.
Signalling problems, broken down trains and
“congestion” hit the railways, especially in the
South East after the first serious fall of snow of the
winter hit the region. Some trains were cancelled,
while others were delayed on routes including the
West Coast Mainline between Northampton and
London Euston. Meanwhile, it was estimated that
traffic jams led to around 700 hours of delay for
motorists in the morning. Union leaders blamed
cuts in maintenance for the problems which have
hit rail services since the start of the year.
Director Mike Leigh is being honoured with a
Bafta Fellowship despite his latest film Mr Turner
being snubbed at the awards. The biopic, starring
Timothy Spall as painter JMW Turner, failed to pick
up any major Bafta nominations last month. But
the Secrets And Lies filmmaker will be receiving
Bafta’s “highest accolade” at the awards ceremony,
at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday. He
follows in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, Alfred
Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Laurence Olivier,
Elizabeth Taylor, Judi Dench and last year’s
recipient Helen Mirren. The filmmaker said: “What a
privilege to be honoured with the Bafta Fellowship.
I’m moved, delighted and surprised.”
Staff at the National Gallery in London began a
five-day strike yesterday in protest against what
trade unions say is creeping privatisation of the
popular tourist attraction. Most of the museum was
forced to shut down because of the protest and a
small group of around 40 people rallied outside
the museum holding up placards and shouting:
“Privatisation, no way!” “Due to industrial action by
some members of the staff, there are substantial
room closures,” read a museum statement. The
protest organised by the Public and Commercial
Services Union is against the hiring of an external
partner, a private company called CIS, to manage a
new staff roster for extended opening hours.
Taxi driver
admits to
two women
London Evening Standard
he police yesterday
urged potential further
victims of a convicted
black cab rapist to come forward amid fears that crimes
committed against women
travelling by taxi have gone
The appeal was launched
after David Perry, a black cab
driver from Bow, admitted at
Southwark Crown Court that
he had attempted to rape one
woman and had sexually assaulted another after they
got into his vehicle in the
early hours of the morning.
Both women had been out
socialising and had fallen
asleep in the back of Perry’s
cab, before waking to find
him molesting them.
Perry’s admission — which
follows the jailing of notorious serial black cab rapist
John Worboys in 2009 — has
raised concerns that more
women might have been targeted by him.
Detective chief inspector
Samantha Price, from Scotland Yard’s Sexual Offences,
Exploitation and Child Abuse
Command, said: “Perry, as
the driver of a black taxi,
was in a position of trust. He
breached that trust by targeting women he perceived
to be vulnerable.
“Perry was a taxi driver
for some 25 years and I must
consider the possibility he
may have committed other
offences that have not been
“I would now appeal directly to anyone, who as a
result of this case, thinks
they may have been raped or
assaulted by Perry. I would
like to reassure anyone worried about coming forward
that they will be treated
with the utmost sensitivity.”
Price also praised the bravery of the two victims whose
testimony led to Perry’s detection.
The first of Perry’s offences took place in January 2013
in Calabria Road, Highbury.
The second was in May 2014
near Glebelands Avenue in
South Woodford. Both victims were in their twenties.
DNA evidence taken following the offences linked
the crimes, but did not match
any profiles on the police database. Investigations identified the taxi used for the
crimes and Perry, 52, was
arrested. His DNA was taken
and matched to both attacks.
At Southwark Crown Court,
he admitted one count of attempted rape nd one count of
sexual assault against one victim. He also pleaded guilty to
sexual assault on the second
victim before being remanded
in custody for sentencing in
Residents near Perry’s
home in Gayton House, Bow,
yesterday described him as
an “odd loner” but said they
were shocked he had been
preying on women in his cab.
One neighbour said she
had been bombarded with
text messages from Perry and
had been afraid of him.
She said: “Perry is a very
strange man ... At one point he
was sending me rambling text
messages at night saying we
should go for a picnic and things
like that. Maybe he was drunk,
it was very scary though. He
never touched me but he made
me very uncomfortable.”
Another neighbour, Runa
Ali, 33, said: “He is a real
loner - I never saw anyone
else go into his flat. He is not
the friendliest of people but
there was nothing to indicate
a real dark side like this.”
Bird flu outbreak
A police officer places a barrier across a closed road leading to a chicken farm, after an outbreak of bird flu in the village of Upham in southern England yesterday. Close to
10,000 chickens are to be slaughtered at the farm following the outbreak of the H7 strain of avian influenza, local media reported.
Lawmakers authorise
‘three-parent’ babies
he government yesterday
became the first country
to allow a “three-parent”
IVF technique which doctors say
will prevent some inherited incurable diseases but which critics see as a step towards creating
designer babies.
The treatment is known as
“three-parent” in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the babies,
born from genetically modified
embryos, would have DNA from a
mother, a father and from a female
Police crack down on
‘keyless’ car thieves
London Evening Standard
rganised gangs are
stealing 17 vehicles a
day in a “car hacking”
crimewave across London, police revealed yesterday.
Scotland Yard announced a
week of action against the gangs
behind a surge in “keyless”
thefts of vehicles, including
Range Rovers and BMWs.
Last year, more than 6,000
cars and vans were stolen by
criminals using the technique,
accounting for 42% of all vehicle
Officers from yesterday began
carrying out uniform roadside
checks and mounting covert operations to tackle the gangs.
Police revealed that criminals
were not only targeting highvalue cars parked in people’s
driveways, but also vans which
they break up into parts and ship
Latest figures show that the
number of cars stolen in London
rose by 8% last year to 21,869,
with the increase mainly due to
a rise in the rate of keyless thefts.
Detective chief superintendent Carl Bussey said: “We
believe that organised crime
groups using this technique
are responsible for the theft of
thousands of vehicles in London.
“These people currently view
keyless vehicle theft as a lowrisk, high-return crime, with
the most valued motor engines
fetching up to £1,000 on the
black market and vehicles fetching £10,000.”
Police released new figures
which show that Ford Transit,
Ford Connect and Mercedes
Sprinter vans are the most commonly stolen vehicles using keyless methods, followed by BMWs
and Land Rover models, including Range Rovers.
These makes comprise 70% of
all keyless thefts in London.
East London boroughs have
been the hardest hit by car
thefts, with Redbridge, Newham
and Havering all in the top three.
Kensington & Chelsea, which
the Standard revealed in December had seen a surge in keyless
thefts of Range Rovers, comes
seventh in the capital’s borough
Detective chief superintendent Bussey said that police were
working closely with car manufacturers to work out methods
of combating the technique, but
added that even simple methods
could help to foil the thieves.
Police are advising motorists at risk to use steering or
gear-stick locks, always double
checking vehicles are locked
when leaving them and urging
them to fit tracker systems.
Car thieves use simple devices purchased online to
bypass or hack into onboard
electronic ignition systems and
sometimes simply tow vehicles
Police intelligence suggests
that the cars are driven to the
Home Counties where they are
stripped for parts before being
shipped abroad. Many are sold
to Africa.
It is designed to help families
with mitochondrial diseases, incurable conditions passed down
the maternal line that affect
around one in 6,500 children
After an emotionally charged
90-minute debate that some
lawmakers criticised as being too
short for such a serious matter,
parliament voted 382 to 128 in favour of the technique, called mitochondrial donation.
The vote paves the way for a
medical world first for Britain,
but one that is fiercely disputed by
some religious groups and other
The process involves interven-
ing in the fertilisation process to
remove mitochondria, which act
as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and which, if
faulty, can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders,
blindness and muscular dystrophy.
Mitochondrial DNA is separate
from DNA found in the cell nucleus and does not affect human
characteristics such as hair or eye
colour, appearance or personality
“I for one would be absolutely
certain I wouldn’t stand here and
defend the concept of designer
babies - choosing the colour
Official visit
of the eyes and all the rest of it.
This is about purely dealing with
those terrible, terrible illnesses,”
opposition Labour lawmaker
Andrew Miller, chair of parliament’s science and technology
committee, said during the debate.
International charities, advocacy groups and scientists had
urged Britain to pass laws to allow
the treatment, saying it brought a
“first glimmer of hope” for some
families of having a baby who
could live without suffering.
“We have finally reached a
milestone in giving women an
invaluable choice, the choice to
become a mother without fear
Water, sewerage bills
for households to fall
Chancellor George Osborne bids farewell to New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie outside
11 Downing Street in London yesterday. Christie is in the UK to
promote the life sciences industry. He also met Prime Minister
David Cameron.
of passing on a lifetime under
the shadow of mitochondrial
disease to their child,” Robert
Meadowcroft, chief executive
of the Muscular Dystrophy
Campaign, said following the
In an open letter to lawmakers, 11 international campaign groups, including the US
United Mitochondrial Disease
Foundation, described the condition as “unimaginably cruel”.
“It strips our children of the
skills they have learned, inflicts
pain that cannot be managed and
tires their organs one by one until
their little bodies cannot go on any
more,” they wrote.
he average water and
sewerage bill for households in England and
Wales is set to fall by 2% or £9
over the next year, the industry said yesterday.
Water UK also pledged a
package of measures worth
more than £40mn to support
customers struggling to pay or
who are in debt.
The price cut comes after
regulator Ofwat ordered the
industry to lower annual water
bills by 5% in real terms over the
next five years.
Actual bills dropping through
customers’ letterboxes in five
years’ time will be higher because they will include the rate
of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation.
Ofwat’s 5% real-terms cut
means water companies are
having to hold back bill rises
by more than they had initially
wanted, after their initial submissions a year earlier would
have seen a 2% real-terms fall.
Among individual companies,
Water UK said Southern customers will see a 6% or £27 cut in
their combined water and sewerage bill to £410 for 2015-16.
Severn Trent and United Utilities will both fall 1% or £4 on a
year earlier, while the decline in
the Anglian Water bill will be 7%
or £29. Northumbrian Water
customers will see combined bills
rise by 1% or £4 to £371.
Water UK said the amount in
dividends and other payments
set aside for debt and equity investors, who the sector relies on
to fund investment in services
to customers, will be reduced.
However, companies will
still invest more than £44bn,
including to prevent leaks and
supply interruptions and better
sewage treatment to help keep
rivers, coasts and beaches clean.
Targets for the next five years
include saving 370mn litres of
water a day by tackling leakage
and promoting efficiency.
Water UK chief executive
Pamela Taylor said: “Water
companies understand the
pressures their customers are
under and are delivering lower
bills and even more support for
struggling households.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Labour ‘to lose 30 seats in
Scotland to nationalists’
Beavers allowed to
stay in the River Otter
Town hall chief censured
for finger-wagging rant
Parliament pass
for disgraced Huhne
Madonna to perform
at Brit Awards
The opposition Labour party will lose as many
as 30 Scottish seats to nationalists in the May
7 election, a poll showed yesterday, reducing
Labour leader Ed Miliband’s chances of
unseating Prime Minister David Cameron. Scots
voted to stay part of the United Kingdom in a
September 18 referendum, but support for the
Scottish National Party has since soared on the
perception that London will not deliver the extra
powers it promised to swing the poll result. The
Times/YouGov poll shows the Scottish National
Party has a 21-point lead in Scotland and would
take 48% of the vote to Labour’s 27%, the Times
newspaper reported.
The first wild beavers to breed in England for 800
years are not going to be rounded up and put in
a zoo after all. In what was hailed as a “great day
for conservation,” they will continue living free in
a river 16kms from the south-west city of Exeter.
At least 10 beavers live along a 20km stretch of
the River Otter. They were spotted a year ago and
there were immediate calls to get rid of them.
Farmers warned they would damage trees, crops
and rivers and spread parasites and disease. A
campaign to leave them alone garnered 12,000
signatures. Peter Burgess of the Devon Wildlife
Trust defended the beavers, saying they could
mitigate flooding and boost wildlife diversity.
One of London’s town hall bosses has been
censured for his “disrespectful” behaviour towards
campaigners for more affordable housing. Labour
mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, was found
to have breached the borough’s code of conduct
when he lost his temper after being approached at
a show in East Ham last summer. A YouTube video
of the incident shows the red-faced 60-year-old
shouting and wagging his finger aggressively at
members of the Focus E15 group. A complaint was
investigated by the council’s standards advisory
committee. It found the mayor had breached part
5.1 of the code “by failing to show appropriate
respect to a member of the public”.
Disgraced former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne
has been handed a coveted pass granting him
access to the parliamentary estate. The politician
dramatically quit as Liberal Democrat MP for
Eastleigh two years ago after pleading guilty to
perverting the course of justice. He had tried
to cover up swapping speeding points with
ex-wife Vicky Pryce, and was jailed for eight
months. But Huhne is among a host of former
members granted a Commons pass, according
to a list disclosed to the Press Association under
freedom of information rules. Some 360 are able
to use Westminster’s heavily subsidised bars and
restaurants as well as other facilities.
Madonna will be performing at the Brits, the
star has confirmed. The 56-year-old singer was
previously rumoured to be on the bill for the music
awards ceremony, when her spokeswoman called
the news “just speculative”. Now she has posted a
message to her fans on Twitter, writing: “Hello to all
my UK Rebel Hearts!!! See you at the Brits on Feb
25th”. Madonna, who is releasing new album Rebel
Heart, will also be on stage at the Grammys next
month. The Like A Virgin star last performed at the
Brits in 1995, when she sang Bedtime Story. Sam
Smith heads the nominations for this year’s awards
after being shortlisted for five gongs, while Ed
Sheeran and George Ezra follow with four apiece.
taken to
after fall
in court
Snow-covered park
‘tried to shield
diplomat in
abuse scandal’
he sex abuse trial of television weatherman Fred
Talbot was halted yesterday when he fell into a table and
injured his head as he left the witness box.
Talbot, 65, suffered a crashing
fall as he appeared to miss a step to
the right of the box at Manchester
Minshull Street Crown Court.
He suffered a cut to the forehead after he tumbled into a facing
The incident took place as the
jury was sent out for a break after
Talbot had started to give evidence
in his defence.
Talbot has been taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary for precautionary checks, the court
There were gasps from the
packed public gallery as Talbot
collapsed in a heap and the court
clerk rushed to his aid.
Talbot groaned on the floor and
looked dazed as he was eventually
helped to his feet.
A bloodied cut to his forehead
was clearly visible before Court 9
was cleared as Talbot was propped
up against the table.
Talbot had earlier entered the
witness box for the first time
to give evidence in his defence
against allegations that he indecently assaulted five schoolboys
between the late 1960s and the
early 1980s during his former career as a teacher.
He was in the box for about 20
minutes as he answered questions
from his barrister, Suzanne Goddard QC, about his early life and
The jury was sent out for a
break shortly before 11.50pm and
was swiftly followed by judge
Timothy Mort, who had just told
Talbot not to talk to anyone while
he was giving evidence. Moments
later Talbot suffered his accident.
The jury was later called back in
by judge Mort and told that proceedings had come to an end for
the day.
Guardian News and Media
People ride their horses across snow-covered ground in Richmond Park, west London,
argaret Thatcher was
adamant that officials
should not publicly name
Sir Peter Hayman, a senior diplomat connected to a paedophile
scandal , even after she had been
fully briefed on his activities, examination of formerly secret papers released to the National Archives shows.
The 37-page file includes numerous handwritten notes and
annotations by the late Conservative prime minister. It also reveals
that security services were not
initially informed about Hayman’s
proclivities, as a secretary forgot to
pass on a message to the relevant
official and police neglected to follow up the matter.
The densely-typed documents,
which were available for view to
the public for the first time on
Tuesday, also describe how Hayman, who died in 1992, apparently arranged for “obscene correspondence” to be sent to the
British high commission in Ottawa when he was the most senior diplomat there. A member of
domestic staff at the mission was
wrongly blamed at the time for the
letters, which were sent to a false
female name.
The file, compiled between
October 1980 and March 1981,
is made up of memos and background notes put together for
Thatcher, then prime minister,
and is littered with her handwritten notes, underlinings and crossings out.
The existence of the file was
revealed by Sky News last month.
LibDem minister yesterday warned that David
Cameron’s pledge to
ringfence education spending
could put elderly people’s lives
at risk.
Norman Lamb claimed the
move would mean critical elderly care services bearing the
brunt of proposed Tory cuts.
The attack came after Cameron said Tories would protect
school funding in cash terms,
meaning spending would not
rise with inflation - a plan
Danny Alexander, LibDem chief
secretary to the Treasury, said
could do “serious damage” to
Health Minister Lamb said
the ringfencing, alongside a
Tory desire to cut taxes, could
mean “unacceptable standards
of care”.
He told the Standard: “I’m
quite sure they won’t be
ringfencing councils (which control social care spending) against
deficit reduction and so the im-
pact on services for frail elderly
people could be massive and the
knock-on effect for the NHS
could be significant as well.”
He went on: “If you are going
to cut that further, and as far as
I can see that’s inevitable under
the Tories’ plans, the consequences for older people are very
Asked if it would put their lives
at risk, he said: “Of course, potentially that is the case, but also
just unacceptable standards of
Lamb said the Tories could
not transfer money from the
NHS to help fund elderly care
because they had also pledged to
ringfence that budget.
He said he was pushing for the
LibDem manifesto to include a
commitment to transfer care
spending from the communities
and local government budget to
health - with a new department
for health and care.
Meanwhile Alexander said he
was concerned about Cameron’s
failure to protect schools against
The chief secretary told the
Standard: “If you look to the fu-
ture and you look to the agenda
that they’re setting out I think
that you do see serious risks —
particularly around the early
years and 16 to 19 age groups.
“Those are areas where the
Conservatives, if they were left to
their own devices, would do serious damage.”
He added: “You would see a
lot of young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, denied the opportunity
in life that as a society we should
be providing.”
Tory Chancellor George Osborne has said the next government will have to make billions of
pounds worth of cuts to reduce
the UK’s deficit. But the Tories
have also set out tax cut plans for
middle-income earners, leaving
critics fearing deep reductions in
departmental spending.
The prime minister said he
would protect England’s schools
budget in cash terms, but per pupil funding would not keep pace
with inflation.
Labour’s Tristram Hunt said
Tory claims to protect funding
actually represented a “realterms cut”.
was referred to as a “senior civil
servant”, not to protect him but
because he was not a witness and
none of the defendants knew his
The memo ends: “It is the policy
of the law officers that persons
who have been investigated by the
police but not prosecuted should
not be named in the House (of
Commons), as to do so is to cast
an unnecessary slur on the person
without his having the opportunity to clear his name before a court.”
Thatcher amends this paragraph to cross out “in the House”,
indicating that she did not believe
Hayman should be named anywhere. She also strongly underlined the word “slur”.
As it transpired, all this effort
was for nothing. The very next
day, March 18, 1981, a Conservative MP, Geoffrey Dickens, used
parliamentary privilege to ask in
the Commons if the attorney general “will prosecute Sir Peter Hayman under the Post Office Acts
for sending and receiving pornographic material though the Royal
Mail”, prompting an official response from the attorney-general,
Havers, which named Hayman.
Thatcher’s insistence on not
naming Hayman appeared always
unlikely to succeed. The retired
Stowe and Oxford-educated career diplomat had come to the
attention of police in 1978 when
a package containing sexually explicit correspondence was found
on a London bus, addressed to a
Henderson, the pseudonym Hayman used within PIE. Police raided
his flat in west London and found
14 years’ of journal entries detailing his fantasies, many involving
Litvinenko son ‘hit
hard’ by death
PM school budget pledge to
put elderly at risk: LibDems
London Evening Standard
On Friday the Cabinet Office announced that it had reviewed the
decision to keep the file secret beyond the standard 30-year deadline and was releasing it to the National Archives in Kew. A preview
of the file was issued to the media
then. The details of the way Hayman’s case was treated will be of
interest to campaigners seeking
justice for the victims of historical sex abuse, whose cases will be
considered by a child sex abuse inquiry commissioned by the Home
Secretary, Theresa May.
A number of the files refer to
decisions by Sir Michael Havers,
then the attorney-general. May’s
original choice of head for her inquiry, Baroness Butler-Sloss, is
the brother of Havers, and stepped
down after victims and their families objected.
In one three-page document
from March 17, 1981, titled Sir Peter Hayman - Background Note,
unnamed legal officials explain
why Hayman was not prosecuted
when, three years previously, police discovered that he was a member of the Paedophile Information
Exchange (PIE) group, who sent
indecent material to others via
the post and had sexual fantasies
about children.
The note explained that Hayman had only been “on the periphery of enquiries” into PIE, and that
there was “no evidence of his having sought to approach any child
for sexual purposes, or his seeking
to incite others to do so”, meaning
he was not prosecuted. None of the
other eight people involved in the
correspondence was prosecuted,
it added. At a subsequent Old Bailey trial involving more senior PIE
members, the note adds, Hayman
Anatoly Litvinenko and his mother Marina arrive at the Royal
Courts of Justice in London yesterday.
he son of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko
has told an inquiry he “never truly believed my father would
Anatoly Litvinenko, 20, giving
evidence to the public inquiry into
Litvinenko’s death said his father
was proud to be a British citizen.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Anatoly, who was 12 when his father
was poisoned, recalled visiting
hospital on the day of Litvinenko’s
He said: “Before this point I
never truly believed my father
would die. I was young and optimistic and I thought he would
Anatoly was told his father had
died on November 1, 2006 at University College Hospital.
“This hit me hard but at the
same time I felt quite numb,” he
said. The boy was taken into the
room where his father’s dead body
was laid out.
He told the inquiry: “It was very
painful to look at him in the state
he was in.”
Anatoly was not aware his fa-
ther had worked for Russian intelligence services before coming
to the UK, nor that he had been
working for British security services.
He believed his father was a
journalist writing for the Chechen
press, the inquiry heard.
He added: “I understood why he
disliked Russia. I understood why
he liked England and I understood
his sentiments towards Chechnya.”
Asked by counsel to the inquiry
Robin Tam QC about occasions
when Litvinenko spoke to him
about Britain, Anatoly said: “He
was always going on about the
integrity of this nation. The honesty. The transparency with which
judicial processes are carried out.
The honesty of the police and the
deep contrast with the regime in
which he grew up in and the system in which he served.”
Earlier, Anatoly’s mother and
Litvinenko’s widow Marina wept
as she recalled the last words she
heard her husband utter before his
death: “I love you so much”.
The inquiry was also shown a
video clip of the spy publicly pinning the murder of a prominent
Russian journalist on Vladimir
Putin weeks before his own death.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
UN agency calls for refugee quota system in Europe
he top UN official for refugees has called for the European Union to consider
imposing a quota system to force
its nations to more equitably
handle a spike in asylum seekers.
“We are ready to support po-
Eight held
over ties to
ight people were arrested
in France yesterday on
suspicion of participating
in extremist networks that send
militants to Syria, the interior
ministry said.
have intensified since terrorist
attacks in Paris in early January.
While the suspects are not
thought to be directly tied to the
attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a
kosher grocery that left 20 people dead, including the three
gunmen, the arrests are part of
an effort to ramp up security in
the face of what is seen as deepening radicalisation.
“Nearly a month after the attacks in Paris, this operation is
a manifestation of the total determination of security forces
under the authority of justice to
fight relentlessly against terrorism,” Interior Minister Bernard
Cazeneuve said.
The arrests come after similar raids last week during which
police in the southern town of
Lunel rounded up five people
thought to be connected to networks of jihadists who recruit
youths to fight with the Islamic
State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq.
The government has said that
some 3,000 French citizens are
linked to extremist networks,
and 73 French citizens have died
fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Cazeneuve said there are also
some 161 court proceedings currently open involving 547 people
believed to be connected to jihadist networks.
He added that authorities
would use a new French counter-terrorism law passed in November to crack down on online
propaganda and websites that
advocate radical extremism.
“Nearly a month after the attacks that hit Paris, this operation is a new show of the total
determination of the forces of
order ... to fight relentlessly
against terrorism,” said Cazeneuve.
A security source told AFP
that the group arrested comprised “seven men and a woman,
aged between 21 and 46”.
“Three of them have already
travelled to Syria and came back
in December,” this source added.
year were presented in Germany
and Sweden, a sign of the continent’s lopsided distribution.
The rush of refugees into Europe comes as the number of
people driven from their homes
by conflict and crisis topped
50mn, a first since World War II,
according to the UNHCR.
Many refugees choose to seek
asylum in northern Europe rather
litical initiatives within Europe,
for instance, aiming in some
situations to have forms of quota
distribution,” Antonio Guterres,
the UN high commissioner for
refugees (UNHCR), told reporters.
He said that while asylum
seekers generally enter Europe
through Greece and Italy, nearly
half of all asylum requests last
than following EU immigration
rules and applying where they
first arrive.
Sweden has already called on
other EU states to take a greater
share of refugees.
Greece and Italy have also
complained that they lack the
capacity to deal with rising numbers arriving by boat, with human rights groups criticising
hancellor Angela Merkel
paved the way yesterday
for a wide debate about
Germany’s immigration laws,
declaring that the current rules
need to be reviewed.
“We should look back calmly
at what we have done in recent
years to improve the immigration rules,” Merkel said. “Then
we can decide if it needs further
Members of parliament from
Merkel’s conservative Christian
Democratic Union (CDU) and
their Bavaria-based associate
party, the Christian Social Union
(CSU), had rejected changes to
the nation’s immigration rules.
That includes Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who has
repeatedly ruled out introducing
a new immigration law.
However, CDU general secretary Peter Tauber has joined the
Social Democratic Party (SPD),
the junior member of Merkel’s
coalition government, and the
opposition Green Party in calling
for immigration reforms.
The centre-left SPD plans to
unveil a position paper by the end
of the month that is expected to
naturally to produce a fair share
among European countries.”
Sweden receives the highest
number of refugees per capita in
the EU and is second only to Germany as a destination for Syrians
fleeing the four-year war in their
home country.
In 2013, Sweden granted automatic residency to Syrian refugees and has since seen asylum
requests rising to record levels,
expected to reach about 90,000
in 2015.
The rapid increase in the
number of asylum seekers is seen
as one of the main factors behind
the rise of the extreme right, with
the anti-immigration Sweden
Democrats becoming the thirdlargest party in elections in September.
Top court rejects Serbia,
Croatia genocide claims
The Hague
he UN’s highest court has
rejected rival claims of
genocide by Croatia and
Serbia in landmark rulings over
their 1991-1995 war, and urged
the former foes to turn the page
on their bloody history.
Croatia voiced dismay with
the judgment, saying that it
changed “nothing” in its relations with Belgrade, but Serbia
said it hoped it would help forge
better ties.
International Court of Justice
(ICJ) chief judge Peter Tomka
first dismissed Zagreb’s claim
that Serb forces committed
genocide during Croatia’s war of
He made a similar ruling in a
counter-claim by Belgrade over
a Croatian counter-offensive
that forced 200,000 Serbs to flee
after the last major battle of the
Tomka said that both sides
had committed crimes during
the conflict, including forcible
displacement, but that neither
had proved genocide, which
“pre-supposes the intent to destroy a group, at least in part”.
But he added: “The court encourages the parties to continue
their cooperation with a view to
offering appropriate reparation
to the victims of such violations,
thus consolidating peace and
stability in the region.”
Zagreb had dragged Belgrade
before the ICJ in 1999 on genocide charges linked to the war
in Croatia that killed 20,000
people, one of several conflicts
during the bloody breakup of the
former Yugoslavia.
Serbia was accused of ethnic
cleansing as a “form of genocide” in the town of Vukovar
and other areas, leading to large
numbers of Croats being displaced, killed or tortured and
their property destroyed.
Vukovar was captured after a
harrowing three-month-long
siege by the Yugoslav army (JNA)
and Serb rebels, one of the darkest chapters of the conflict.
The Hague-based Yugoslav
war crimes tribunal has sentenced several Serb commanders for war crimes committed at
Vukovar, including senior commander Mile Mrksic, who was
jailed for 20 years on appeal.
Mrksic was convicted for his
role in the murder of more than
200 prisoners at a farm outside
Vukovar whose bodies were
dumped in mass graves.
After the fall of the town,
about 22,000 non-Serbs were
expelled, and about 350 people
from the Vukovar region are still
reported missing.
Belgrade responded with a
counter-suit in 2010, saying
that about 200,000 ethnic Serbs
were forced to flee when Croatia
launched Operation Storm to re-
Justice Ministers Orsat Miljenic (left) of Croatia and Nikola Selkovic
(right) of Serbia listen to the verdict of the ICJ in The Hague in a
long-running genocide case.
take its territory in 1995.
Following the offensive, the
proportion of ethnic Serbs in
Croatia shrank from 12% to 4%.
Belgrade was outraged in
2012 when Operation Storm’s
Croatian military commander,
Ante Gotovina, was acquitted on
appeal before the Hague-based
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Tomka extensively referred to
rulings by ICTY, which has never
indicted any suspect for genocide in Croatia, saying that the
tribunal’s findings were “generally consistent” with those of
the ICJ.
Speaking outside the courtroom at the stately Peace Palace,
Serbian Justice Minister Nikola
Selkovic said the ruling “is going
to start a new and blank page in
our relationship with Croatia”.
“We have to live with each
other,” he said. “I’m sure we
have learnt a good lesson for the
“Maybe tomorrow, we’ll be
both in the European Union,”
referring to Serbia’s bid to enter
the bloc which Croatia joined in
But the reaction from Zagreb
was one of dismay.
“We are not satisfied with the
court’s ruling, but we accept it in
a civilised manner,” Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told reporters in Zagreb.
At the court, Croatian Justice
Minister Orsat Miljenic said:
“There are so many elements
A man in Vukovar, Croatia, smokes as he watches the ICJ verdict
yesterday on genocide during the Balkan wars in Vukovar.
that confirm that crimes were
committed ... by the Yugoslav
army and Serbian forces.”
“It is a however a judgment by
the court that we fully respect,”
he said, but added that it “did
not change relationships with
Ties between the two countries improved slowly after the
war but turned frosty in 2012 after inflammatory comments by
both sides.
So far the ICJ, which rules
in disputes between states, has
recognised only one genocide
case since opening its doors in
Genocide is the most serious
of international crimes but also
the hardest to prove.
In 2007 the court ruled that
genocide had taken place in
1995, at Srebrenica in neighbouring Bosnia, when almost
8,000 Muslim men and boys
were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves by
Bosnian Serb troops who overran a UN-protected enclave.
Three soldiers knifed
outside Jewish centre
An emergency services vehicle is seen in the area in downtown Nice where the Jewish community centre
is located.
Merkel helps to open immigration debate
both countries for “push-backs”
of migrants legitimately seeking
“Something is wrong in the
way the system is working,” said
Guterres, a former Portuguese
prime minister, calling for “a European solidarity mechanism”.
“Quota systems are always
an extreme solution,” he added.
“Ideally, the system would work
urge the government to introduce
a points system to attract qualified immigrants.
Yesterday however, the chancellor said that she had not
reached any conclusion on
whether the immigration laws
need reforming.
SPD parliamentary leader
Thomas Oppermann welcomed
the chancellor’s comments on
reviewing existing laws, saying
that he was pleased that “the
immigration debate in Germany
had gathered momentum”.
Oppermann plans to travel to
Canada next week to examine
the nation’s immigration system, looking specifically at how
the system helps address labour
shortages that the domestic jobs
market is unable to fill.
“I am still convinced that a
good way could be a flexible point
system,” he said.
Immigration re-emerged as an
issue in Germany after a recent
push for measures to control a
migrant influx spearheaded by
two populist right-wing groups:
the Alternative for Germany
(AfD) and the anti-Islamist
movement PEGIDA.
The AfD has been chipping
away at support for the major
political parties, including the
CDU, with opinion polls show-
ing that the AfD could enter the
nation’s parliament at the next
election in 2017.
It faces a major test of its political strength this month at regional elections in the northern
German city state of Hamburg.
The AfD appeared on the national stage in 2013 as a eurosceptic party and later launched
a campaign questioning the nation’s immigration laws – a platform that helped pave the way for
the party to gain parliamentary
seats in three eastern states.
This coincided with the launch
in October of PEGIDA’s antiIslamist and anti-refugee movement in the eastern city of Dresden.
PEGIDA also called for a radical rethink of the country’s immigration laws.
Carsten Sieling, a member of
the SPD’s left wing, said he also
sees Canada as a potential model
for coping with an influx of migrants.
“Germany does not need a
bouncer mentality like the CSU
wants it to have,” Sieling said.
In Canada, authorities use a
point system to fill gaps in the labour market by awarding points
to would-be immigrants depending on their job qualifications and language skills.
The decline in Germany’s
birth rate adds pressure on Merkel’s government to consider reforming immigration rules, with
Sieling saying that a new law
could be cast “as a law to secure
the future”.
Still, the debate must also address the question of whether
Germany would be prepared to
attract new immigrants by liberalising its strict citizenship legislation.
Like many Western nations,
Germany has job shortages in a
range of sectors, including the
information-technology industry as well as the health system.
The German Chamber of
Commerce and Industry estimated that the nation needs
100,000 to 150,000 additional
foreign workers each year to fill
the gaps in the workforce.
However, the chamber is
not pressing for changes to the
present law to address gaps in the
labour market.
The group’s managing director, Martin Wansleben, pointed
out that most of Germany’s immigrants are from the European
Union and have free movement
of travel in the EU.
“Above all, we need a better
welcoming culture,” Wansleben
hree soldiers on patrol
outside a Jewish community centre on the French
Riviera were attacked yesterday
by a knife-wielding man who
was only last week expelled
from Turkey, sources said.
The attack took place in
broad daylight in Nice as the
troops were guarding the centre under reinforced security
measures introduced after last
month’s deadly jihadist attacks
in Paris.
The assailant left two of the
soldiers slightly injured and was
immediately arrested, a police
source said.
A second person who was
seen with the suspect before
the incident was also detained,
a source close to the case added.
A security source involved
in the investigation told AFP
the main suspect was expelled
from Turkey last week and had
been interrogated by French
intelligence services upon his
return, who had not gathered
enough information to take him
to court.
Several sources close to the
probe named him as Moussa
However, there was “apparently” no link to Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman
and four Jewish shoppers in a
kosher supermarket during the
Paris attacks that left a total of
17 people dead.
“Aged around 30 years old
and from the Paris region, he
is ... known to the police,” the
interior and defence ministries
said in a joint statement.
One soldier was injured in the
arm and the other in the face in
the Nice incident.
Both were treated by medical
personnel at the scene.
Anti-terrorist prosecutors in
‘No Jews’ job ad in France sparks furore
A French anti-racism organisation has filed an official complaint for
discrimination after a company published a job ad online looking for a
computer graphics designer who “if possible” is “not Jewish”.
The job description, which was published on Monday on specialised
website by graphic design agency NSL Studio
and has since been removed, sparked a furore on the Internet.
The company has distanced itself from “the anti-Semitic comments
that were published on February 2, 2015 on the site”, it says on its website, where it also announced having filed a complaint so that a probe
can determine “who is responsible for this publication”.
“NSL Studio is an agency of integrity that does not discriminate,” it
said, adding that “the person in charge of the ad will be questioned, a
probe launched and the necessary measures taken if it turns out that it
really came from us”.
NSL Studio had earlier said on its Twitter account that its job ad had
been hacked.
SOS Racisme spokeswoman Aline Kremer told AFP: “This is a proven
case of public discrimination based on the real or supposed belonging
to a race, ethnic group or religion, which is punishable by law.”
Paris have taken charge of the
investigation, a judicial source
told AFP.
There was no immediate indication why the man carried
out the assault.
“Shortly after 2pm (1300
GMT), while three soldiers were
patrolling in front of a Jewish
site ... a passer-by violently attacked one of them with a large
knife, aiming at his face and
neck,” said a police source.
France is home to Europe’s
largest Jewish population, estimated to be between 500,000
and 600,000, as well as its largest Muslim community, estimated at around 5mn.
The attacks in Paris last
month prompted concerns
there would be repercussions
in both communities, and also
highlighted that security forces
were a target of extremists.
As such, France has deployed
some 10,500 soldiers outside
“sensitive” sites in the wake
of the attacks, notably outside
Jewish and Muslim places of
worship, schools and media
But in the two weeks after the
January 7-9 attacks, 128 antiMuslim incidents were reported
to authorities in France, not including Paris and its surrounding region – almost the same
amount as the whole of 2014.
And anti-Semitism as a
whole has risen, with figures
showing anti-Jewish acts doubled over the past year.
President Francois Hollande
has since vowed to combat
what he calls “unbearable” rising racism and anti-Semitism
in the country, where he says
“conspiracy theories” and hatred for Israel are fuelling attacks.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Mother of seven accused of treason to be released
mother of seven accused
of treason for telling the
Ukrainian embassy about
Russian troop movements was
to be released from jail yesterday,
her husband said, though the
charges against her remain.
Svetlana Davydova, who faces
between 12 and 20 years in prison, is being held in the high-security Lefortovo jail in Moscow.
Her case has led tens of thousands of people to petition President Vladimir Putin to show
“The pre-trial restrictions
have been changed,” her husband
Anatoly Gorlov told AFP, stressing however that the charge has
not been dropped. “It’s too early
to rejoice but the kids will see
their mother.”
Davydova was still breastfeeding her youngest child, a
girl, when she was arrested last
month in the town of Vyazma,
west of Moscow.
The case has shocked the
country, and prompted over
50,000 Russians – including
prominent authors and TV celebrities – to petition Putin.
“Mr President, we ask you to
be merciful towards a woman
and mother of a large family,” the
letter read. “We are hoping that
investigation and a possible trial
will be as open and just as possible and will be in accordance with
the norms of the law.”
Among the signatories were
Natalya Solzhenitsyna, widow of
the Nobel literature prize-winner
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, film director Andrei Zvyagintsev and
actress Lia Akhedzhakova.
Putin spokesman Dmitry
Anatoly Gorlov, husband of Russian activist Svetlana Davydova, holds
up a photo of her with their children in the background, at their home
in Vyazma.
Peskov confirmed that the presidency had received the petition.
Activists from the liberal party
Yabloko picketed the headquar-
ters of the FSB security service,
successor to the Soviet-era KGB,
whose investigator is in charge of
the case.
Davydova, 36, who opposes
the Ukraine conflict, phoned the
Ukrainian embassy last April
to allegedly report the military
base located near her residential
building in Vyazma had emptied,
suggesting that its soldiers might
have been deployed across the
She also purportedly informed
embassy staff that she had overheard a serviceman saying troops
of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU, would be
sent on a mission – presumedly
to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry said it was not clear how Russian authorities had learned of
the phone call, and expressed the
hope that they were not eavesdropping on its Moscow embassy.
“We would not want to think
this is the case,” a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.
Observers call Davydova’s case
an embarrassment for the authorities and decry their virtual
blackout of any information regarding Russia’s intervention in
Critics also describe Davydova’s treatment as reminiscent
of the excesses of the repressive Soviet regime, and say the
case signalled the government’s
readiness to ramp up efforts to
squelch dissent.
“This is a signal of unthinkable monstrosity, this is 1938,”
Akhedzhakova, one of the country’s most outspoken actresses,
said on radio, referring to the
height of Stalin-era repression.
Davydova’s husband said he
was grateful for the outpouring
of support, adding he and other
family members had been questioned by investigators earlier in
the day. “The entire family refused to testify against her.”
Authorities had previously
said Davydova risked losing custody of her children.
But yesterday Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights,
Pavel Astakhov, said that Davydova’s husband was taking good
care of the children, and that
they would remain together as a
“Svetlana Davydova’s younger
children miss their mum very
much,” he said on Twitter, citing
local authorities.
In 2012, Russia broadened its
definition of high treason, alarming rights groups that said nearly
anyone could fall afoul of the
amended law.
Davydova is believed to be the
first high-profile victim of the
modified law.
“Practically anyone can now
become its victim,” said Gorlov.
“Now any housewife who looked
out of her window can be accused
of treason.”
Death toll mounts in
east Ukraine as US
mulls arming Kiev
A pro-Russian soldier walks near a house destroyed after shelling yesterday in Donetsk.
ears grew yesterday of an
escalation in the mounting
bloodshed in east Ukraine
as the United States mulled arming Kiev and pro-Russian rebels
ordered a mass mobilisation.
At least 16 civilians and five
government troops were killed
over the past 24 hours in fierce
clashes across the conflict zone,
government and pro-Russian
rebel officials said.
The ferocious fighting remains focused around the battleground town of Debaltseve,
a strategic railway hub between
the rebel strongholds Donetsk
and Luhansk where separatists
are fighting to encircle Ukrainian
The latest casualties come
as fighting has surged in recent
weeks after separatists tore up
a tenuous ceasefire deal and
pushed into government-held
The United Nations said yesterday that the civilian death toll
has risen by 224 in the past three
weeks and that the total of those
killed in the conflict since April
now stands at over 5,358 people.
“Any further escalation will
prove catastrophic for the 5.2mn
people living in the midst of conflict in eastern Ukraine,” warned
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.
Concerns over the spiralling
conflict come as Washington says
it is seriously considering providing arms and more military
equipment to Ukraine.
President Barak Obama’s administration had previously
ruled out sending weapons to
Ukraine’s government but the
failure of economic sanctions to
force Russia to halt alleged military support for the separatists
has prompted a second look at
the option, officials told AFP.
“What’s being discussed is
perhaps we should begin providing defensive weapons, defensive
equipment, to Ukraine,” a senior
official said.
Washington so far has provided non-lethal assistance to
Ukraine, including flak jackets,
medical supplies, radios and
night-vision goggles.
US Secretary of State John
Kerry is to jet into Kiev tomorrow
for meetings with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk but no official announcement on weapons
deliveries is expected.
A Ukrainian diplomatic source
told AFP that Kiev was hoping to
A woman with a child cries inside a bus evacuating them yesterday
from Debaltseve.
get more “clarity” on its request
for weapons following Kerry’s
visit and a raft of high-level
meetings at an upcoming security conference in Munich.
Ukraine and its Western allies
accuse Moscow of sending thousands of troops and weapons to
support the rebels and spearhead
their latest offensive.
Moscow has repeatedly denied
the allegations but the rebels,
however, appear to be equipped
with the heavy weaponry of a
regular army.
As rebels continued to push
their offensive, their leaders have
announced a mass mobilisation
aimed at boosting fighter numbers to 100,000.
The voluntary call-up – which
has been met with scepticism by
some in rebel-held territory – is
set to start next Monday, insurgent leader Alexander Zakharchenko said.
Kiev authorities announced at
the end of January that they also
Bravado, resentment and fear as Ukrainians are called to war
By Alessandra Prentice,
arina’s brother and a
close family friend have
both been killed on the
frontline in Ukraine’s east. Now
she has had to say goodbye to
her husband, Ruslan, called up to
fight pro-Russian separatists in
Kiev’s latest conscription drive.
“Our family have suffered
losses already. My brother died
in July. (My daughter’s) godfather
died in September. That’s why we
are not afraid any more, we simply feel pain,” she said, bouncing
five-month-old Valeria in her
“It was either serve or go to
prison ... he’s promised to come
back,” she said, declining to give
her surname.
After a series of morale-sapping military defeats in the east,
the Kiev government has now
made military call-up a solemn
fact of life for Ukrainian men and
their families.
And resentment from some
over being called up and from
others that some young people
are dodging the draft by leaving
the country could yet turn into
a fresh challenge for President
Petro Poroshenko and his hardpressed government.
Violence has escalated sharply
in the east and the Kiev government has ordered a new wave of
mobilisation to pull in a further
50,000 troops to counter any
new separatist offensive.
The separatists have defiantly
announced their own conscription effort, aiming to boost their
combined forces to 100,000.
Two weeks after receiving
the order to enlist, Ruslan and
around 50 other conscripts from
a Kiev suburb gathered at a rundown military base for enrolment.
In worn civilian clothes and
mismatched camouflage outfits,
they posed for photos and embraced family members ahead of
a blessing by an Orthodox priest.
Some stood silently, hands
clenched at their sides. Others
traded jokes and shouted “Glory
to Ukraine!” as a full military
band played a scrappy rendition
of the national anthem.
“We’re in good fighting spirits,
because if not us, who? There’s
going to be a big turn-around,”
35-year-old warehouse worker
Viktor Rybalko said as he carried
his belongings onto the bus taking the men to a training camp. “I
don’t have any military experience, but I’ll learn and then we’ll
go where the map shows we need
to fight.”
erupted in Ukraine’s east last
April, after political upheaval in
Kiev led to the ousting of a Moscow-backed president.
Poroshenko said he wanted the
conflict to be over within weeks,
but fighting has raged on, killing
more than 5,000 people.
The separatists, fighting for
territory the Kremlin calls “New
Russia”, effectively repudiated
a five-month-old ceasefire last
month and launched a new offensive that has put Kiev’s forces
on the back foot.
“How has the government let it
come to this? It’s a disgrace,” said
68-year-old pensioner Valentina
Aleksandrovna, comparing the
impact of the war to the nuclear
disaster at Ukraine’s Chernobyl
power plant in 1986.
“When Chernobyl happened,
you couldn’t see the danger but
it was there. This is the same,
the frontline is far away but our
boys are dying every day,” she
said, wiping away tears as she
waved goodbye to her 26-yearold neighbour.
As of early December, Poroshenko said 1,252 servicemen
had been killed since the start
of fighting. The latest separatist
offensive has pushed that toll
higher, with 57 reported killed
just last week.
Ukraine’s authorities say there
can be no military solution to the
conflict, but having designated
Russia an “aggressor state” the
government is determined to
strengthen the 200,000-strong
Ukraine says the rebels are
armed by Moscow and backed by
Russian troops, leaving its army
heavily outgunned.
Amid reports of conscripts
fleeing the country to dodge the
draft, the government has had to
come up with fresh ways to incentivise army service.
“It is every man’s duty to defend their nation, their land,”
Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said on Saturday. “There
are cases, not widespread but
they exist, of people, who to put
it lightly are not patriots, going
abroad to avoid service.”
In a Facebook post that he later
deleted, presidential adviser Yuri
Biryukov said a significant proportion of conscripts in western
regions had not turned up.
“According to unofficial sources, hostels and motels in border
regions of neighbouring Romania
are completely filled with draft
dodgers,” newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda quoted the deleted
post as saying.
He has not since spoken publicly about the post and did not
immediately respond to a Reuters
request for comment.
More than 1,300 criminal investigations have been launched
against citizens suspected of
avoiding military service, according to the defence ministry.
Members of the newly created Ukrainian interior ministry battalion
‘Saint Maria’ take part in a ceremony yesterday before heading to
military training, in front of St Sophia Cathedral, in Kiev. Members of
the battalion will be sent to the frontline in eastern regions of Ukraine
shortly after the training, according to their commander.
In a bid to spur enthusiasm for
frontline combat, the government said soldiers would receive
an additional 1,000 hryvnia ($62)
for each day spent in active battle.
Servicemen will also receive
12,000 hyrvnia, 10 times the
monthly minimum wage, for the
destruction of an enemy vehicle
and 48,000 hryvnia for every
Barring exemptions for students, parliamentary deputies
and some scientists, any Ukrain-
ian man between 20 and 60 years
old, judged fit to serve, could be
called up to fight.
In Kiev, the new conscripts
pulled off their hats and bowed
their newly shaven heads as the
priest sprinkled them with holy
water. Several of the men, balding or with grey hair, looked close
to retirement age.
Afterwards, a poem was read
out calling on Ukrainians to love
their country “in work, in love,
in battle, when artillery shells
were calling up 50,000 troops in
the face of the latest rebel offensive.
Hopes of defusing the conflict
look more distant than ever after
the latest attempt at truce talks
collapsed in acrimony in the Belarussian capital Minsk over the
The rebels say they are willing to stop fighting only if Kiev
agrees to redraw the demarcation
line agreed in a September ceasefire deal to include gains they
have made since in recent days.
In the meantime, life for civilians trapped in the crossfire continues to deteriorate rapidly, with
many fleeing.
“The situation is getting worse
by the day,” the head of the International Committee of the Red
Cross in Ukraine, Michel Masson, said in a statement. “People
are hiding in basements for days
on end and those who dare to
venture out to collect basic aid
risk being wounded or killed.”
Ukraine tightens
rules for Russians
entering country
Ukraine’s government has
announced tough new rules
limiting the documents Russians
can use to enter the country in
a move likely to stoke further
tensions between Moscow and
From March 1 Russians will no
longer be able to enter Ukraine
on their internal identity
documents and will instead
require a passport for overseas
travel, a government decree said.
Surveys estimate that over 70%
of Russians do not possess such a
“This will allow us to considerably
reinforce (border) checks
and ensure Ukraine’s national
security,” said Prime Minister
Arseniy Yatseniuk.
Russians could previously travel
to Ukraine for 90 days on their
identity card or a birth certificate
for a child.
The move will likely affect several
million Russians, especially those
near Ukraine’s border where
many families have relatives on
both sides of the frontier.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia
of providing the separatists
with arms and regular soldiers,
something Moscow denies.
Only 28% of Russians possess
an international passport, while
76% of Russians have never left
the borders of the former Soviet
Unions, according to a study by
the independent Levada centre
published in April last year.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Italy president urges reform
taly’s new president, Sergio
Mattarella, has called for political reforms and collective
efforts to beat a record-length
recession in his inauguration
Mattarella, 73, was elected for
a seven-year mandate by national and regional lawmakers on
He replaces the 89-year-old
Giorgio Napolitano, who resigned January 14 due to old age.
“I swear to be loyal to the republic and to loyally observe the
constitution,” the former constitutional judge and one-time
Christian Democrat minister said
at a swearing in ceremony yesterday in parliament.
Mattarella said that Italy’s
slump, which started in mid2011, had “protracted itself beyond all limits”, fuelling injustice,
poverty, social exclusion and solitude, even threatening national
“It is essential for budget consolidation to be combined with
a strong growth initiative, to be
formulated first of all at a European level,” the president said.
His comments came amid
growing European resentment
against austerity policies.
Italian presidents have largely
ceremonial duties, but they also
act as arbiters in a highly partisan
political game.
Their influence greatly increases at times of political crisis
because they can call snap elections, reject laws and nominate
prime ministers.
Looking a bit nervous and
at one time losing a page of his
speech, Mattarella said that it
was right to describe him as a political “referee”.
He added: “A referee should
be – and will be – impartial. The
The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit Frecce Tricolori (Tricolour Arrows) spreads smoke with the colours of the Italian flag as carabinieri wait for
the arrival of Mattarella in front of the Quirinale, the presidential palace, yesterday.
players should help him with
their fair play.”
Following the president’s inauguration, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government tendered
its resignation to him.
But officials played down the
event, presenting it as a formal
gesture of respect to the newly
instated head of state, which was
going to be rejected.
Renzi is pushing political and
economic reforms which Mattarella will have to oversee, as the
ultimate guardian of the constitution.
They include new election
rules and a streamlined parliamentary system, which, controversially, will strengthen the
“Without passing judgment on
individual measures, which is up
to Parliament, in its sovereignty, I
wish to express the hope that this
[reform] path will be completed
with the aim of making our democracy more adequate,” Mattarella said.
The new president is Italy’s
12th, and the first to hail from
Speaking as someone who entered politics after the 1980 killing by the Mafia of his brother
Piersanti, at the time the governor of Sicily, Mattarella said that
national efforts against organised
crime and corruption were “absolute priorities”.
Matterella then hailed as “heroes” anti-mafia prosecutors
magistrates Giovanni Falcone
and Paolo Borsellino, who were
assassinated by Sicily’s Cosa
Nostra mafia in 1992 in two separate, bloody attacks.
Since the 1980s and 1990s,
when the Sicilian Mafia was
Italy’s most powerful organised
group, Italy has experienced a
rise in other crime groups, nota-
bly the ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra
These have developed big
franchises by infiltrating business activity in northern Italy
and elsewhere in Europe.
Over the past two years, Italian
prosecutors have been investigating several cases of corruption
in business and politics.
The investigations have ranged
from alleged corruption in the
awarding of contracts to build
venues for the upcoming Expo
international fair in Milan, to
alleged bribes surrounding the
construction of Venice’s flood
barrier to a recent case involving
local Rome politicians.
In a notable gesture for a Catholic, he hinted support for the
legal recognition of same-sex
unions, as he called for “the full
development of civil rights, in
the social, economic, personal
and sentimental spheres”.
18-year-old charged in assault
case that outraged Germany
n 18-year-old male was
charged yesterday with
an assault that resulted
in the death of a 23-year-old
student, a crime that triggered
outrage in Germany.
The man, identified only as
Sanel M because of German
privacy laws, has been charged
by prosecutors two and a half
months after the attack in Offenbach near Frankfurt.
Sanel M is accused of knocking to the ground Tugce Albayrak in a McDonald’s parking
lot November 15, in retaliation
for Albayrak’s intervening in
the defendant’s and his friends’
allegedly harassment of two
schoolgirls at the restaurant.
Albayrak, who was studying
A picture taken on November 28, 2014, shows a woman holding
up pictures of Albayrak in front of a hospital in Offenbach, western
Germany, where the woman was getting medical treatment and
where she died.
to become a schoolteacher, hit
her head and lapsed into a coma.
The attack that was captured
in a surveillance video that was
later broadcast on national media.
Two weeks later, her family decided to switch off her life
support on her 23rd birthday.
The proceedings against
Sanel M will take place before
the juvenile division of a criminal court in Darmstadt, the
prosecutor’s office said.
Sanel M is in custody, where
he himself became the victim of
an assault at a juvenile detention
facility in Wiesbaden and suffered a broken nose, a spokesman for investigators said.
About 1,000 mourners attended Albayrak’s funeral and a
mass online petition has called
for her to be posthumously
awarded the Federal Order of
Merit for her bravery.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has
expressed support for awarding
the honour to a woman called
a “role model” by President
Joachim Gauck for showing
“bravery and civil courage in an
exemplary way”.
Turkey revokes passport of Erdogan rival
he Turkish government
has cancelled the passport of ally-turned-foe
Fethullah Gulen, local media
reported yesterday, the latest
salvo in a bitter feud between
the US-based Muslim cleric
and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan and his ruling AK
Party (AKP) accuse Gulen and
his supporters of seeking to
establish a “parallel state” in
Turkey and of orchestrating a
corruption investigation in 2013
which briefly threatened to engulf the government.
Gulen, who denies the accusations, stepped up his own
criticism of Erdogan, saying
that he was leading Turkey “toward totalitarianism”.
CNN Turk said on its website
that Turkey had informed US
officials on January 28 that it
was revoking Gulen’s passport
because it was issued based on a
“false statement”.
Gulen has lived in self-im-
posed exile in Pennsylvania
since 1999.
A Turkish foreign ministry
official said he could not confirm the media reports.
The move could bring Ankara
a step closer to issuing a formal
extradition request for Gulen.
Washington is expected to
reject such a demand, further
fraying bilateral ties already
strained over regional policy and
US concerns over what some see
as Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism.
Erdogan has already called for
Gulen to be deported.
In December a court issued
an arrest warrant for the cleric,
who had been a close ally of Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party
for many years after it came to
power in 2002.
After the graft allegations
emerged in 2013, however, Erdogan, then prime minister,
purged Turkey’s state apparatus, reassigning thousands of
police and hundreds of judges
and prosecutors deemed loyal to
Turkish authorities have also
conducted raids against media
Gulen: The AKP’s leaders now
depict every democratic
criticism of them as an attack
on the state.
organisations seen as close to
Gulen, triggering criticism from
rights groups and the European
Union, which Turkey still aspires to join.
Hidayet Karaca, head of the
Samanyolu broadcaster who has
been jailed since December, said
yesterday that the case against
Gulen and senior media executives was politically motivated.
“The police raids and arrests
have become part of a strategy
by the AKP government to silence the free press. It’s no longer possible to discuss judicial
independence in Turkey,” Karaca said in a written response to
questions from Reuters submitted through his lawyers.
In an op-ed published yesterday in the New York Times entitled Turkey’s Eroding Democracy, Gulen accused Erdogan
– who remains popular in Turkey – of using his electoral successes to ignore the constitution
and suppress dissent.
“By viewing every critical
voice as an enemy – or worse,
a traitor – they are leading the
country toward totalitarianism,”
he wrote.
“The AKP’s leaders now depict every democratic criticism
of them as an attack on the
state,” Gulen wrote.
He said that a “historic opportunity” for Turkey to become a progressive state with a
real chance of EU membership
had been “squandered” in the
AKP’s crackdown on civil society and the media.
The opinion piece identified
Gulen, 73, who rarely emerges
from his well-guarded compound, as an “Islamic scholar,
preacher and social advocate”.
He did not identify Erdogan
by name in the article.
Mattarella reaffirmed Italy’s
commitment to the European
Union, but urged the bloc to show
more solidarity on migration.
Rome has often clashed with
EU partners over the sharing of
the burden of migrants who cross
the Mediterranean by boat.
He also warned against nationalistic responses to the threat
posed by Islamist terrorism, and
paid tribute to Stefano Tache, a
two-year-old who was killed in
an anti-Semitic attack against
Rome’s synagogue in 1982.
“He was our child, an Italian
child,” Mattarella said.
An elaborate protocol was followed for the presidential inauguration.
Twenty-one blank cannon
shells were fired from the Janiculum hill after Mattarella swore
loyalty to the constitution, and
the air force aerobatics team
kicked into action when Mat-
Mattarella: A referee should be – and will be – impartial. The players
should help him with their fair play.
tarella later laid a wreath at the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in
Piazza Venezia.
The so-called Frecce Tricolori
flew above the landmark monument spewing green, white and
red smoke, representing the colours of the national flag.
Mattarella, who over the past
few days has been seen around
Rome aboard a humble Fiat Panda city car, was then driven to the
presidential Quirinale palace in
a stately 1960 Lancia Flaminia
open-topped limousine, accompanied by horseguards in full
“I think he is an extraordinary
figure,” said Elvira Piraino, who
stood outside the presidential
palace while Mattarella was being sworn in nearby in Parliament. “Let’s hope he will live up
to our expectations.”
Former prostitute takes
the stand in DSK case
urid details of lunchtime
sex parties emerged yesterday as an ex-prostitute
nicknamed “Jade” took the stand
in a French trial over a high-end
prostitution ring that landed
former International Monetary
Fund (IMF) chief Dominique
Strauss-Kahn in court on charges of pimping.
The first part of the multifaceted trial with 14 accused is
focused on a prostitution ring
allegedly run by the owners and
a publicist for the luxury Carlton
hotel in the northern city of Lille.
It was during a probe into the
so-called “Carlton Affair” that
investigators stumbled across
the name of Strauss-Kahn,
whose high-flying career and
presidential prospects imploded
when a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault in
Strauss-Kahn will not appear until he testifies next week,
and witnesses are not allowed to
refer to those not present, but
the now-retired prostitute Jade
made references to “a public figure” she met through the “Carlton” vice ring.
It is members of the Carlton ring who allegedly procured
prostitutes – including Jade – for
the entourage of Strauss-Kahn,
who threw sex parties for the dis-
graced former finance minister in
Paris, Brussels and Washington.
Jade, bespectacled and with
a brunette bob, dressed in neutral colours with a scarf wrapped
tightly around her neck, burst
into tears several times as she
told how she had been forced to
take up prostitution to support
her two young children after her
She explained how Rene Kojfer, 74, former public relations
manager for the Carlton and
her employer Dominique Alderweireld, a notorious brothel
owner in Belgium just across the
border who is known as “Dodo
the Pimp”, would organise for
her and other women to attend
lunchtime sex parties at a private
Lille apartment.
When the judge asked her directly what she was paid for, she
retorted: “Well, I wasn’t there
doing the cleaning.”
“There were sexual relations
but each person had a partner,
there was no orgy where everyone gets involved, the men made
their choice,” she said, describing a “classy” environment with
champagne and a buffet.
This is in comparison to the
orgies with Strauss-Kahn, which
she described during the investigation as “carnage with a heap of
mattresses on the floor”, according to prosecution sources.
Prostitution is legal in France
but procuring – the legal term for
pimping which includes encour-
A court sketch shows a former
prostitute, known as Jade,
testifying for the first time on
the second day of the so-called
‘Carlton Case’ trial at the Lille
aging, benefiting from or organising prostitution – is a crime.
As such the trial focused on
who paid whom, and who gave
the orders.
On one occasion, Jade said Kojfer – accused of setting up local
businessmen and police officials
with prostitutes – handed her
cash directly, and in other cases
the bill was settled by “Dodo”.
She claimed that Kojfer paid
the girls much less than promised, saying “times are hard”,
adding “but we got a free bathrobe”.
Kojfer denies the charge of
“aggravated pimping”, saying
that he was merely doing a service for his friends by introducing
them to the prostitutes he knew.
Strauss-Kahn said on Monday
that he had never set foot in the
Carlton and did not know Kojfer
and “Dodo”.
Russia, Poland argue over WWII anniversary ... and unpaid rent
Russia and Poland traded diplomatic barbs yesterday
over the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War
II in a sign of Moscow’s worsening ties with Warsaw,
the EU’s leading critic of its role in Ukraine.
Relations between Moscow and the West have already
plummeted over the conflict in Ukraine, and Warsaw
has advocated ratcheting up EU sanctions on Russia.
The latest spat centred around the 70th anniversary of
the liberation of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz by
Soviet troops in Poland and preparations to mark the
anniversary of the end of the World War II in May.
Poland’s Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna angered
Russia nearly two weeks ago when he played up the
role of Ukrainians, rather than Moscow’s Red Army, in
liberating Auschwitz.
He also questioned whether it was appropriate to mark
the anniversary in Moscow.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin
responded that Schetyna was shaming himself and
insulting millions of Russians killed in the battle to
defeat Nazi Germany.
Yesterday, Poland’s foreign ministry said it formally
complained to the Russian embassy, handing a protest
note to Russia’s charge d’affaires at the ministry in
In a separate decision yesterday, a court in Saint Petersburg ordered the eviction of the Polish consulate
from its building there, Tass reported.
The regional arbitration court ruled in favour of a
state firm which sued the consulate over some 74mn
roubles ($1.1mn, €960,000) in unpaid rent, demanding
that its staff be kicked out.
Consulate officials “must pay Inpredservice debts
in the amount of 74mn roubles and move out of the
building”, the court’s press service said.
Polish diplomats have occupied two city centre buildings since 1983.
Inpredservice, which leases space to foreign missions,
argues that the consulate has not paid rent since 1993
and that the lawsuit is merely for the last three years.
In a comment to Interfax news agency, the Polish
embassy in Moscow said that the consulate stopped
paying because Russia hiked the rates 10-fold while using space for its diplomatic offices in Poland for free.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
NHRC seeks report
on church attack
Policeman dies in
hit-and-run case
Petrol, diesel prices cut
by over Rs2 a litre
3 more die of swine
flu in Telangana
Foundation stone laid
for PHFI southern campus
The National Human Rights Commission yesterday
sought a report from the home ministry into the
attack on a Delhi church. The NHRC’s move comes
following media reports that some unidentified
people broke into the St Alphonsa’s Church and
defiled the place of worship and sacred objects.
The church’s administration on Monday claimed it
did not seem to be just an incident of theft as it was
the fifth attack in nine weeks on a Delhi church. A
few sacred items, including a ciborium (receptacle)
and a monstrance kept inside a tabernacle, a
cabinet made of wood and glass, were taken away.
The NHRC said it also received a complaint from
lawyer Manoj V George that the police were not
taking appropriate action.
A 50-year-old Delhi police constable died a day
after he and a home guard were hit by a speeding
car, police said yesterday. Constable Ajmer Singh
received multiple injuries after car hit him and home
guard Krishan Pal, 25, on Monday around 1.50am.
Singh and Pal were deployed at a police picket
on the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border in east Delhi’s
Ghazipur area when car coming from Uttar Pradesh
hit them. Pal was discharged after first aid as he had
only minor injuries. “The errant car driver hit Ajmer
and Krishan when they signalled it to stop,” said a
police official, adding the car driver is still on the run.
Singh, a resident of Sonipat in Haryana, was posted
at Ghazipur police station and lived in the police
barracks while Pal lives in east Delhi’s Shahdara area.
With international crude oil prices continuing
to rule below $50 per barrel, India’s three
state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs)
yesterday reduced petrol and diesel prices
Petrol price in Delhi will be cut by Rs2.42
per litre, while diesel cost will come down
by Rs2.25 per litre from today. As a result
of the latest price revision, consumers will
pay Rs56.49 per litre for petrol and Rs46.01
for diesel in the national capital. Currently,
petrol is priced at Rs58.91 and diesel Rs48.26.
According to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC),
the latest revision was done due to the
the deceleration of prices globally and the
appreciation in rupee-dollar exchange rate.
Three more people have died of swine flu in
Telangana since Monday, taking the toll to 34.
According to the health department, 122 samples
were tested for H1N1 virus on Monday and of them,
39 were found positive. The authorities screened
1,976 samples since January 1 and of them, 668
were found positive. The health department,
however, continues to maintain that the intensity
of swine flu is decreasing as the number of cases
is showing declining trend. Officials said enough
stocks of medicines have been made available at all
teaching, district and area hospitals. They advised
people to take all precautions such as reporting to
the hospital on the first symptoms of swine flu like
high fever, sneezing, cough and body pain.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao
yesterday laid the foundation stone for the southern
regional campus of Public Health Foundation of
India (PHFI), a public-private organisation working
to strengthen public health system. The first phase
of the project with an initial investment of Rs600mn,
will be ready in two years. The chief minister
announced Rs100mn as immediate assistance
from the state government for building the campus,
which is coming up at Rajendarnagar on the city’s
outskirts. He also promised to consider the demand
that the government provide 50% of the estimated
cost of the campus. KCR, as Rao is popularly known,
said the government would also consider the
suggestion for university status to PHFI.
Brides hire
langurs to
halt monkey
Holy dip
India vows to
nuke deal ‘at
‘an early date’
edding rings - check.
Brass band - check.
Large, aggressive monkeys - check.
Anxious brides wanting the
perfect wedding day are leaving
nothing to chance in northern
city of Agra, hiring large monkeys
and their handlers to keep pesky
smaller ones at bay.
Grey langurs are becoming increasingly common at outdoor
weddings to ward off their natural enemy rhesus monkeys which
are known to gatecrash and wreak
havoc, an official said yesterday.
“The langur-handlers are
much in demand during the winter wedding season,” Ram Avtaar,
an official in the city’s municipal
corporation said
“They usually charge up to
Rs3,000 ($48) if booked in advance but the rates can go up to
Rs10,000 in case of an emergency
when monkeys have already entered a venue.”
Though revered by the Hindus,
monkeys are a major menace in
many cities, trashing gardens, office and residential rooftops and
even viciously attacking people
for food.
Agra, home to the Taj Mahal
which attracts huge numbers of
tourists, has seen monkey numbers increase in recent years, in
part because devout Hindus believe feeding them is auspicious.
With weddings increasingly
held outdoors, many brides in
Agra have already faced a simian scare, the Times of India reported.
Amita Singh was quoted as
saying she was shocked to find a
group of uninvited monkeys chattering away on her wedding day.
“I was so scared that I fell
off my chair,” the daily quoted
the 29-year-old as saying. “My
make-up and dress were completely spoilt.”
She hired a langur and handler
for her reception, held on a separate day for Hindu weddings.
Significant work remains on
the fine print of a deal aimed at
unlocking projects worth tens
of billions of dollars that have
been stuck on the drawing
board for years
New Delhi/ Washington
Hindu devotees gather on the banks of the Ganges river to take a ‘holy dip’ on the occasion of
Maghi Purnima during the annual traditional fair ‘Magh Mela’ in Allahabad yesterday.
understanding” to open India’s
nuclear power sector to US
firms reached during President
Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi last month could be finalised
this year, Indian officials say.
The January 25 announcement by Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed six
weeks of intensive talks, but few
details were released beyond a
framework based on India’s acceptance of the principle that
plant operators should bear primary liability in the event of a
nuclignificant work remains on
the fine print of a deal aimed at
unlocking projects worth tens of
billions of dollars that have been
stuck on the drawing board for
years. India wants to nearly treble its installed nuclear capacity,
which would make it the world’s
second biggest market after China.
US officials say details of an insurance scheme to protect suppliers from crippling lawsuits need
to be thrashed out and India still
has to ratify a UN nuclear convention. Indian officials do not
rule out completing the process
this year.
“We are committed to moving
ahead on all implementation issues at an early date,” said Syed
Akbaruddin, spokesman at of
the ministry of external affairs.
“There are no policy hurdles left.”
General Electric and Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba,
were fully briefed on the meetings
of a nuclear “contact group” that
hammered out the nuclear compromise in London, say sources
with direct knowledge of the
Bringing them into the mix was
crucial because the prospect of
huge lawsuits, like those against
Union Carbide over the 1984
Bhopal gas disaster, has until now
kept US and other foreign firms
on the sidelines.
India and the US signed a landmark agreement to co-operate on
nuclear power back in 2008. Yet
an expected bonanza never materialised because India later passed
a law that would expose reactor
makers to liability if there was an
The liability issue has become
a metaphor for the unrealised
potential of the bilateral business
relationship and a question mark
against Modi’s “Make in India”
As the days counted down to
Obama’s visit, Indian officials
persuaded their US counterparts
that their law was “not incompatible” with international standards
that place the burden of liability
on the operator, said one senior
US official.
New Delhi also proposed setting up an insurance pool with a
liability cap of Rs15bn ($244mn).
The state-run Nuclear Power
Corporation of India would pay
premiums to cover its liability.
Suppliers would take out separate
insurance against their secondary
liability - which could not exceed
that of the operator - at a “fraction” of the cost.
India must still ratify the International Atomic Energy Agency’s
Convention on Supplementary
Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), which requires signatories to channel liability to the
operator and offers access to relief
“We would be looking at how
quickly we can ratify the CSC this is part of our assurance to the
suppliers, along with the insurance pool,” said an Indian member of the contact group, set up by
Obama and Modi at a Washington
summit last year.
The US official said Washington expects the Indians to ratify
with the IAEA in the near future,
along with documentation “stating what their law intends” on
the issue of liability, which should
offer further reassurance to US
The US industry would have
preferred the issue to be settled
by amending the liability law,
something considered politically
impossible for Modi to achieve at
the moment.
Have BJP’s Delhi calculations gone wrong?
id the BJP wait for far too
long to press the button
for Delhi elections? Did
party president Amit Shah, after
masterminding successful campaigns in Maharashtra, Haryana,
Jharkhand and even in Jammu
and Kashmir to a large extent,
get it wrong in the national capital? And, most importantly, after sweeping almost everything
before it for nearly eight months,
is the Modi “wave” finally beginning to ebb?
Neutral commentators, longtime Delhi watchers and even
some from the Aam Aadmi Party
(AAP), the BJP’s chief rival in
these polls, say that had elections to the Delhi assembly been
held sometime in July or August
of 2014, it would have been a piece
of cake for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. And it was for
Modi, Shah and Arun Jaitley - or
perhaps in the reverse order as
the first two were still “outsiders”
to Delhi politics while Jaitley is a
dyed-in-the-wool ‘Delhiite’- to
decide that.
President’s rule was imposed
on Delhi on February 17, 2014 after AAP chief minister Arvind
Kejriwal resigned in a huff. It was
expected that whoever won the
parliamentary polls of April-May
2014 - and there was little doubt,
never mind the hindsight, that the
BJP was the ascendant political
outfit - would get the Delhi im-
broglio out of the way before addressing issues/elections in other
states. After all, it is a small state
(in fact it is not even a state on
several parameters!) and a party
that could win nationally must
find it easy pickings in its own
But Modi and his team seemed
to think otherwise. Yes, from the
point of view of strengthening its
base in the Rajya Sabha, where the
BJP is suffering from a major lack
of numbers, states like Maharashtra were very important. The Modi-Shah combine must have also
felt that if the government were
to make a splash with the muchbandied “good governance” coupled with a few bold economic
reforms, the politically conscious
Delhi voter would be glad to embrace the party.
As far as political strategies go,
there is nothing wrong with such
thinking. But then all politicians
should remember that public
memory is proverbially short and
fickle. The hoped-for reforms are
taking time not just because Modi
is finding the Rajya Sabha hurdle too high to surmount but also
because these are matters that require much deliberation and discussion among the stakeholders
and in India that is a stupendous
task considering the sheer scale of
each issue.
Take for example Modi’s pet
‘Clean Ganga’ project. There are
Delhi Diary
By A K B Krishnan
402 tanneries in Uttar Pradesh’s
Kanpur district alone and almost
every one of them is sending untreated and highly toxic waste water into India’s most famous river.
Successive state administrations
have been pushed and prodded by
various federal governments over
the years to get these units closed
but with little success. Even the
Supreme Court has found it difficult to get its orders implemented.
You may wonder what is so difficult about getting a factory or a
hundred like it closed. If it’s not
political clout that is helping the
owners of these tanneries then
it’s their muscle power as many
of them are owned by the underworld. If not handled delicately
the Ganges will not just have factory effluents in its waters but also
human blood. No government
would want that to happen. This
is just one example from one district. There are scores of districts
through which the Ganges flows
and there are hundreds of factories that discharge pollutants into
the river.
The point is banking on reforms
alone to win votes may not be a
very good idea. Especially in the
present case where Modi has been
in power for just three quarters of
a year whereas any reforms of this
magnitude will take years to impact, if at all.
It won’t admit it openly but
the BJP knows its calculations
for Delhi had gone wrong horribly. (The RSS, though, has said
as much through its mouthpiece,
Organiser). The internal strife
within the state unit of the party
was always an open secret. In fact,
in his first appearance at a meeting of Delhi leaders Amit Shah
had sarcastically said he had never
wanted to attend since Delhi had
enough leaders of its own.
Perhaps the first mistake that
the party committed was to take
its then Delhi unit chief Harsha
Vardhan out of state politics and
“elevate” him to federal level as a
minister in Modi’s cabinet. Vardhan, a practising doctor of some
repute and a pleasant but low-key
politician, was generally accepted
by everyone in the state unit as
a non-controversial figure who
could lead the party to power.
But Modi and Shah felt Vardhan
would be better off elsewhere and
that renewed the tussle within the
party for the leader’s chair.
The BJP made amends, so to
say, by bringing retired police officer and anti-corruption crusader Kiran Bedi to fill the leadership vacuum, but this too has
created problems for the party.
(To add strength to Bedi’s hands,
the BJP has asked Vardhan to chip
in with his presence at party rallies, especially the ones that Bedi
will be addressing). But to many
in the party Bedi is an “outsider”
who has been imposed on the
state unit by the national leadership. Some state leaders have been
quick to remember that Bedi had
painted the BJP in bad light and
had even called Modi, then chief
minister of Gujarat, names during her anti-graft agitation in the
company of Anna Hazare.
At press conferences and public
rallies in the run-up to the 2013
elections Kejriwal and his minions
would wave what supposedly were
authentic documents and fling allegations of corruption, mainly
at the Congress Party which was
then in power both in the state
and at the Centre. When reporters
asked why it was not going to the
police or to the courts with those
documents, the AAP leadership
would wash its hands clean saying it was up to the government to
take note and initiate action. AAP
is once again indulging in similar
“shoot-and-scoot” strategy; only
their target has shifted from the
Congress to the BJP.
That is all very well because the
AAP has been seen as a party that
thrives more on someone else’s
perceived mistakes than on its
own administrative and political
acumen. Curiously, the BJP too
has fallen prey to this strategy
which, unfortunately, will lead to
sidestepping the main issues that
confront the people of Delhi.
The BJP has compiled a list of
questions for Kejriwal to answer.
Every day the party is releasing five of these questions. But
instead of asking questions that
directly concern the citizens,
the BJP is attempting to throw
mud at Kejriwal on a somewhat
silly personal level. For instance,
one of the questions raised by
Nirmala Sitaraman, Modi’s articulate commerce minister who
has been hastily drafted to prop
up the party campaign, is why
“common man” Kejriwal flew
chartered. (The flight was chartered by the India Today group
from Jaipur to Delhi for Kejriwal
to attend a function organised
by the magazine). Surely the BJP
can do better. At least that’s the
impression Modi the great communicator has given till date. No
wonder the BJP is floundering in
Corporate honchos
support BJP
The BJP may have had its hands
full facing up to the challenge
thrown by Arvind Kejriwal, but
there is no dearth of support for
Modi’s party elsewhere.
The latest to swear allegiance
to the saffron outfit is a bunch of
corporate honchos cutting across
sectors as varied as airlines to
healthcare to information technology and even media.
Amit Shah presented saffron
scarves to welcome to the party
fold nearly 100 such top executives, including Henry Moses,
country head of Qatar Airways,
Pervez Alamgir Khan of Lufthansa, Neeta Agarwal of AT&T, Dr
Naveen Talwar of Fortis Hospitals and Rajiv Bhambri of India
Abroad newspaper USA/Canada.
Changing horses midstream is
par for the course for professional politicians, former Congress
minister Krishna Tirath being
the latest example. But getting so
many influential businessmen,
who otherwise remain mostly
apolitical or at least keep their
political leanings to themselves
because you never know which
way the wind will blow in the
next elections, is definitely a first
for any party in India. Modi, after all, must be doing something
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
BJP faces possible defeat
in Delhi, say opinion polls
The BJP’s campaign marked by
infighting with party workers
frustrated that Kiran Bedi
was appointed as the chief
ministerial candidate
New Delhi
rime Minister Narendra
Modi is facing his first state
election defeat since taking charge last year, opinion polls
show, a result that would dent his
chances of consolidating power
needed to speed up an economic
The ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party has ordered scores of its top
national and state leaders to campaign for this weekend’s highprofile election to the Delhi assembly where the anti-corruption
Aam Aadmi Party is threatening to
stop its momentum.
But even the appointment of
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to
oversee the campaign while he
is writing this month’s federal
budget may not be enough.
“This is the first time that
we may see Modi’s momentum
stopped and that will be a shock,”
said Satish Misra, a political analyst at the Observer Research
Foundation. “Despite putting
every last drop of energy into this
campaign, it looks like the BJP is
heading for defeat.”
Modi needs to win most of
the state elections over the next
four years to gain control of both
houses of parliament to deliver on
his promise of jobs and economic
growth. The upper house Rajya
Sabha, where his party is in a minority, is frustrating his efforts to
pass laws related to tax and foreign investment.
The BJP’s campaign has been
marked by infighting with party
workers frustrated that Kiran
Bedi, the first woman officer in
the Indian Police Service, was appointed as the party’s chief ministerial candidate - even though she
wasn’t a party member until three
weeks ago.
India’s most powerful Hindu
group, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which is also the
ideological parent of the BJP, said
yesterday the party was struggling
in Delhi and criticised Bedi, saying
she was unpopular.
The AAP is on course to win between 36 and 41 of the 70 seats in
the Delhi assembly, according to
three opinion polls published this
The BJP is on course to win
between 27 and 32 seats and
the Congress Party, which has
dominated politics over the last
century, will win between two
and seven seats, its worst-ever
performance in the city, the polls
The vote will take place on February 7 and the results will be announced three days later.
BJP spokesman Sudhanshu
Mittal dismissed reports that the
party was getting nervous about a
likely defeat.
“Who said we are in panic? We
will deploy all the resources at our
command. This is Delhi. Ministers and parliament members live
here. Why should they not campaign?”
Meanwhile the Congress attacked Bedi over her credentials as
an administrator.
A case was filed against her
over alleged loss to the exchequer when she was the Inspector
General of Prisons but the case
was closed last year during the
New Delhi
he Congress yesterday
attacked the Bharatiya
Janata Party for referring to northeast people as
“immigrants” in its vision
document, and asked if the
ruling party considers people from the region like those
from other countries.
The BJP, rushing to make
amends, withdrew the word
and stressed that the “brothers and sisters of the northeast are the pride of Delhi.”
The Congress’ campaign
chief Ajay Maken, while
releasing the party manifesto here, said: “Does the
BJP consider the northeast
people like those from other
countries? Does the BJP want
to say that the northeast is
not part of the country?”
Maken said at a time when
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi greet each
other at a campaign rally in New Delhi yesterday.
Presidential rule in Delhi, the
Congress said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma
also targeted the AAP over allegations that it had accepted funds
from “dubious companies” in the
run-up to the Lok Sabha polls last
Sharma said the BJP should
answer why an FIR (first information report) against Bedi
was closed, and also about
her being “removed” by some
states where she was posted.
“When she was IG prisons,
there were some complaints. The
Delhi High Court directed the
Delhi police to register an FIR. It
was closed during central rule in
Delhi,” Sharma said.
He said the FIR concerned
“misuse of position” which
caused loss to the exchequer.
Sharma said Bedi was brought
as chief ministerial candidate for
her administrative experience as
Hardline Hindus become
Modi’s enemies from within
n an ashram near the Ganges river
in the Himalayan foothills, priestturned-politician Sakshi Maharaj
mimes rowing a boat to illustrate what
will happen if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ignores Hindu
nationalist demands.
“Modi will have to be a boatman:
one oar must focus on the economy
and the other must concentrate on the
Hindu agenda,” says Maharaj, clad in
saffron robes and sitting cross-legged
on a bed.
He twirls his bejewelled fingers in
the air, explaining that otherwise the
boat will spin in circles.
The Hindu priest, who has been
charged with rioting and inciting communal violence, is the embodiment of
hardline religious elements in Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party whose strident
behaviour is dragging on the government’s economic reform agenda.
In recent months, Maharaj has created uproar by describing Mahatma
Gandhi’s Hindu nationalist assassin as
a patriot, saying Hindu women should
give birth to four children to ensure
the religion survives and by calling
for Hindus who convert to Islam and
Christianity to be given the death penalty.
For the first time since the election
last year, some BJP lawmakers are rebelling against his focus on mending
the economy and governance at the
expense of promoting Hinduism.
This is testing the authority of a
leader who captured power to a degree
not seen since Indira Gandhi ruled India more than three decades ago.
Hardline Hindu politicians impatient with Modi’s refusal to champion
their cause are beginning to advance
their own agendas.
Maharaj, for example, wants to
make it illegal for Hindus to change religions and seeks the death penalty for
slaughtering cows, an animal revered
by Hindus.
Protests erupted at the most recent
parliamentary session over a campaign
by hardliners to convert Muslims and
Christians to Hinduism, torpedoing
key foreign investment legislation that
the opposition had earlier agreed to
Modi had to use executive orders
to drive policy, but they are seen as a
stopgap measure that cannot replace
reforms needed to address India’s
slowing economic growth.
Congress attacks
BJP over northeast
Sakshi Maharaj poses at his residence in New Delhi. The MP is the embodiment
of hardline religious elements in the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“Modi has a major problem with
these extremist elements,” said S
Chandrasekharan, director of the
South Asia Analysis Group in New
Delhi. “If he can’t bring them under
control they are going to ... sap the energy needed to carry out reforms.”
In a sign the world is watching, US
President Barack Obama warned on
a recent visit that India’s success depended on it not splintering along religious lines.
At the spiritual retreat, or ashram,
elderly disciples with long grey beards
bend to kiss the feet of Maharaj, who
wears light brown socks with sandals,
an orange turban, gold-framed Dolce
and Gabbana glasses and a chunky
gold-coloured watch.
With a self-proclaimed following
of 10mn people, Maharaj, a four-time
member of parliament, draws support through a network of dozens of
ashrams and colleges.
“I am aware that I am a powerful
man,” Maharaj says. “I can make or
break the government.”
Maharaj is charged by police with
rioting and inciting a mob after helping tear down the 16th-century Babri
mosque in Ayodhya in 1992, an event
sparking riots in which around 2,000
people died.
He admits being present at the dem-
olition but says he could not stop the
crowds. In India, trials can take decades because of a shortage of judges.
Modi will have a clearer idea of
whether radical elements are alienating voters when the BJP fights elections in New Delhi. Also this month,
the government must present the
budget and try to enact three emergency decrees in parliament.
In December, Modi told lawmakers
their behaviour was hurting the party and warned them not to cross the
Lakshman Rekha, a forbidden line in
Hindu mythology, according to party
officials briefed on the meeting.
“The message is loud and clear:
there is no room for any diversion from
the economy,” said BJP spokesman G V
L Narasimha Rao.
The battle for the government’s direction is particularly acute for Modi,
because he and his party are ideologically rooted in Hindutva, or Hinduness, a concept sometimes defined
in strident opposition to Muslims and
Modi himself has consistently denied accusations that, as chief minister of Gujarat, he did not do enough to
prevent riots in which more than 1,000
people died, most of them Muslims. A
Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.
there was “dearth” of leaders in
the BJP.
“Why was she removed from
Mizoram? Why she was removed
from Chandigarh and Goa? If answers are not provided till tomorrow, we will disclose the reasons,”
Sharma said.
Referring to AAP, he said: “Are
they fighting the polls with money
from the common man or from
fake companies? The whole truth
should come out.”
External Affairs Minister
Sushma Swaraj was visiting China, which lays claim
to Arunachal Pradesh, was
it proper for the BJP to come
out with a vision document
terming the northeast people
He said the Congress demands that the BJP rectify
the error and apologise to
Noted journalist and BJP
spokesman M J Akbar, at
a press conference yesterday evening, said the party
was withdrawing the word,
and that it was “mistakenly
“The brothers and sisters
of the northeast are the pride
of Delhi. The word was mistakenly used. We withdraw
the word, and we repeat that
their (northeast people’s)
welfare is as important as
that of any citizen of Delhi
and the country,” Akbar said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Football fan dies after
being shot outside stadium
Oil company’s executive
held on corruption charges
Brazil beauty pageant
ends in chaos
Colombia 2016 GDP growth
‘to be more than this year’
Thieves steal microchips
worth millions from airport
Police have begun an investigation into the
death of a 16-year-old fan of the Brazilian
regional club Novo Hamburgo, who was shot
twice during clashes between rival groups of
hooligans. Who had shot the teenager late on
Sunday after the 2-2 draw against Aimore was
unknown, police said. The authorities were
looking into the possibility that the teenager
was shot by the security forces dealing with
the clashes outside the stadium in Novo
Hamburgo, in the southern Brazilian state
of Rio Grande do Sul. The teenager died in
hospital from the wounds he had sustained,
local media reported.
Venezuela has arrested state oil company
PDVSA’s production boss for the oil-heavy
western part of the country on corruption
charges, a week after arresting an oil ministry
employee, reported to be his sister, on similar
suspicions. Jose Luis Parada is suspected of
“administrative irregularities in contracting
companies for the distribution of gasoline,”
the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The
news follows last week’s arrest of oil ministry
official Nubia Parada, in charge of overseeing
the domestic fuel market, on suspicion of
corruption. Local media have reported the two
Paradas are siblings.
Miss Amazon 2015 in Brazil ended in acrimony
and accusations of cheating when a runnerup tore the sash and crown from the winning
contestant. Smiling and holding hands, the two
finalists waited for the announcement of the
result of the competition on Friday night in the
Amazonas state in northern Brazil. Carolina
Toledo had just a moment to celebrate her
victory before furious rival Sheislane Hayalla
sneaked up from behind and yanked off her
crown and sash. “In Manaus money is the boss
and I’m showing the people of Amazonas that
money is not in charge here, she did not deserve
it,” said Hayalla in reference to the state’s capital.
Colombia’s economy will probably grow slightly
more in 2016 than the 3.6% predicted for this
year, the central bank chief said. “The technical
team is projecting 2016 growth figures a bit above
those for 2015,” Jose Dario Uribe told reporters
after his quarterly presentation in Bogota. A
nearly 60% drop since June in prices for oil has
hit government spending plans as revenue from
taxes and royalties suffer. The bank held its key
lending rate for a fifth straight month last week,
saying crude price declines were already being
reflected in corporate investment reductions. The
seven-member board lowered its 2015 economic
growth forecast from 4.3% previously.
A gang carried out a spectacular heist on Monday
in one of Brazil’s main airports and fled the site
with a load of microchips reportedly worth at
least $2mn. Airport authorities confirmed that
a gang stormed Viracopos International Airport
in Campinas in the early hours of Monday.
They remained in the freight area for about
four minutes before fleeing with the computer
hardware. No one was injured in the heist. The
police are trying to identify the thieves from
airport security camera footage. The Brazilian
news website G1 reported that, without firing a
single shot, the heavily armed thieves stole four
boxes of data-processor chips worth at least $2mn.
Haiti bus
strike over
fuel prices
Kayapo Indians protest
Biden leading
coup attempt
in Venezuela,
says Maduro
raffic was minimal in the
normally clogged streets
of Haiti’s capital after a
key minibus drivers union called
a two-day general strike to protest high fuel prices.
“The price of gasoline has
fallen on the world market, but
in Haiti, the poorest country in
the world, the authorities do not
follow this trend,” said Fritzner
Jean, who drives a colorful pickup-turned-minibus, known locally as “tap-tap”, the Caribbean
nation’s main form of public
“We want the state to really
lower prices because it’s too expensive for us. Look at the hunger that prevails in the country.
We cannot tolerate that,” Jean
In an effort to avoid the strike,
the government announced
lower fuel prices on Friday, with
gasoline dropping to 200 gourdes ($4.30) per gallon from 215
($4.62), and diesel down to 167
($3.59) from 177 ($3.80) gourdes.
Those prices, however, were
deemed insufficient by the taptap drivers’ union.
Prime Minister Evans Paul,
without further comment, wrote
on his Twitter account at midday: “I say no to those who want
to smash the Republic.”
Protesters put up barricades
of burning tyres at several key
intersections in the capital. “We
are blocking every tap-tap driver
who wants to work,” said a man
who was pulling a car over. He
would identify himself only as
“We are getting the passengers out, without violence. For
sure it annoys people but the
population understands. We
have to be united, otherwise we
are dead,” he said.
The cash is badly needed to
pay off Haiti’s mounting fuel
debt of more than $1.5bn with
Venezuela’s preferential PetroCaribe programme, which allows
countries to receive oil while deferring payment over 25 years at
an interest rate as low as 1%.
Kayapo Indians occupy the entrance of the Planalto Palace as a protest, in Brasilia. The
Kayapo Indians are asking to meet with the Brazilian president, and are calling for the
renewal of the Basic Environmental Plan (PBA), relating to the infrastructure works in
indigenous lands in the south of Para state.
Cuba releases new
photos of Fidel Castro
uban state media late
Monday released the
first photographs of
former president Fidel Castro
in nearly six months in a bid to
quiet rumours that his health is
The images showed the
88-year-old Castro at his home
along with his wife Dalia during
a meeting with the leader of a
students’ union, and were published in the state-run newspaper Granma and other official
Castro had remained quiet
publicly after the US and Cuba
announced in December that
they were going to restore diplomatic relations after a half
century of enmity stemming
from the Cold War.
That silence prompted chatter on social media and in foreign media that Castro was sick
or even had died.
The article accompanying the
new photos said the meeting
took place January 23. The headline says, “Fidel is extraordinary.”
The photos show Castro wearing
a blue sweat-suit with a bluechecked collared shirt.
The images come after weeks
of feverish speculation concerning the Cuban revolutionary leader’s medical condition
after he appeared to disappear
from the public eye.
Castro had remained
quiet publicly after the
US and Cuba announced
in December that they
were going to restore
diplomatic relations after
a half century of enmity
The last time he was seen
in public was January 8, 2014,
when he attended an art gallery
opening near his home.
Swirling rumours of Castro’s
demise have cropped up often
since he stepped down from
office during a health crisis in
2006. Raul Castro, the longtime
armed forces chief, took his
brother’s place at Cuba’s helm.
The Granma article said that
the meeting between Castro
and the student leader came
four days before Castro finally
broke his silence on the diplomatic breakthrough with
the US and said that, although
he was wary of his old enemy
Washington, he did not oppose it and viewed the historic
change as a “positive step.”
Perdomo said his talks with
Castro were as if he were talking to an old friend. He said he
got a call the night before from
Castro and was moved when he
finally heard a voice he had often heard from afar.
“How are you, Randy,?” said
Castro, according to Perdomo.
He said they talked about the
articles that Castro has published in Granma, and about astronomy and the importance of
science in human advancement.
In mid-January Castro sent a
letter to Argentina football legend Diego Maradona—a friend
of his—and this also eased fears
that he was on his last legs.
s Venezuela’s economic
crisis deepens, President Nicolas Maduro has
stepped up accusations of plots
against his leftist government,
lashing out most recently at US
Vice President Joe Biden.
Just days ago Maduro had
fondly referred to Biden as
“comrade,” but now the Venezuelan leader was livid.
At a rally with several thousand supporters, Maduro angrily
accused Biden of going behind
his back in talks with regional
leaders “to announce the overthrow of my government.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the allegations were “baseless and false,”
and an attempt to distract from
what’s taking place inside the
“The Venezuelan government
should focus on the legitimate
grievances of its people, which
include repeated violations of
the freedom of speech and assembly, as well as due process
under the law,” she said.
Psaki also announced that
the US has imposed visa restrictions on more current and
former Venezuelan officials who
it deems to have engaged in human rights abuses and “acts of
public corruption.” The officials
were not identified.
Maduro responded calling the
new sanctions as “vulgar” and
Maduro’s popularity has
plummeted to 20% over the past
year, as the oil-rich country’s
many woes - dire shortages, a
Accused of graft
shrinking economy, and high
crime - have grown worse.
Signs that the government
feels under siege have become
more pronounced with the
plunge in the price of oil, the
mainstay of the Venezuelan
Maduro spent 19 days out of
the country in January, seeking
to shore up oil prices and attract
investments in visits to the Middle East, Russia and China, with
little to show for his efforts.
His brief stays in Venezuela,
meanwhile, have been punctuated by angry denunciations of
plans for “a coup d’etat,” “psychological warfare,” “ambush,”
“plotting” and “economic war.”
“Maximum alert!” Maduro
warned his followers. “A plan for
a bloody coup d’etat has been put
into motion and we must unite
popular forces and the military
to defeat any coup scenario.”
The attacks against the US
vice president began on Friday,
four days after Biden wooed
Caribbean leaders who rely on
Venezuela for subsidised oil supplies at a conference on energy
As Maduro prepared to leave
Caracas for a meeting with Lat-
Govt takes over supermarket chain
Venezuela yesterday said it
has temporarily taken over 35
stores belonging to the “Dia
a Dia” supermarket chain on
charges it squirrelled away food
to stoke public exasperation
over widespread shortages.
President Nicolas Maduro has
alleged that a greedy business
elite is hoarding goods and
engineering long queues by
closing check-out counters in
a bid to sabotage his socialist
rule. Opponents scoff at this
as a ludicrous smokescreen,
while economists have long
recommended the government
ease strict currency controls to
increase imports and shore up
flailing domestic production.
Bachelet’s approval
ratings rebound
Natalia Ciuffardi Castro, 28, is handcuffed and escorted
after testifying in the Supreme Court in Santiago. Ciuffardi,
who had a relationship with the former director of the
Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS) Mario Zelaya
who is accused of fraud, bribery, abuse of public funds and
money laundering, is linked to the wrongful removal of social
security funds.
in American leaders in Costa
Rica, he charged that a “terrorist group” had gone to the Central American country to “try to
threaten me.”
On his return Friday, he went
on television to say that at the
meeting various unidentified
presidents had warned him that
the US was plotting against him,
and “to watch out for Biden.”
“In Washington, they met
with all the governments of the
Caribbean and told them that
the government of Venezuela
was going to be overthrown.”
“Vice President Biden, look
me in the eyes: Is this what you
want for relations with Latin
America and the Caribbean?”
The week before Maduro
lashed out against a visit by expresidents of Colombia, Mexico
and Chile who were blocked
from visiting jailed opposition
leader Leopoldo Lopez.
Maduro said the three - Felipe
Calderon of Mexico, Sebastian
Pinera of Chile, and Andres Pastrana - were coming “to support
an extreme right group that is
calling for a bloody coup d’etat.”
“If a coup d’etat were to occur you would be stained with
blood,” he said.
hilean President Michelle
Bachelet’s approval ratings rebounded in January, reversing a six-month
decline, while support for
the conservative Alianza bloc
dropped to an unprecedented
low, pollster Adimark Gfk said
Approval for the socialist
president, who took office for a
second non-consecutive term in
March, rose to 44% at the start
of the new year from 40% in December. Disapproval of Bachelet
fell four percentage points to
49% in January.
“No doubt several factors
combined to explain this
improvement,” the
polling firm said.
Among them,
Bachelet won several key legislative
battles, specifically the first set
of changes that
form part of her
landmark education
reform, an overhaul of
Pinochet-era electoral rules and
a law allowing civil unions for
same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples.
“Secondly, people’s views of
how the economy and jobs are
being managed suggests that
perceptions about the economy
are stabilising and even improving,” said the pollster.
Despite a slowdown of economic activity in Chile, the
world’s top copper exporter, the
labour market has remained surprisingly resilient.
Meanwhile, approval ratings
for the conservative Alianza
coalition dropped to a dismal
11% and disapproval jumped to
78% as several of its key leaders
are mired in a campaign-finance
scandal. That compared to
approval of 20% and disapproval of 71% in December.
“The opposition Alianza bloc has faced its biggest institutional crisis in
many years, which is
reflected in a disapproval for this coalition of 78%, the
most ever recorded
for this series,” said
Adimark Gfk.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
New law to strengthen
public-private partnership
Notices issued to 240,000
taxpayers in Pakistan
Five US drone strikes kill
26 people in January
Inflation eases at 3.9%,
signals weak economy
Taliban kill six Afghan
cops in two attacks
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has
introduced Public-Private Partnership Act 2015
to empower all government’s departments
to ink agreements with private organisations
and institutions for the benefit of the people.
According the official documents, under PPP Act,
health department will enter into agreements
with donor agencies and private hospitals and
institutions to provide specialised healthcare
facilities to the people and improve the standard
of medical education in the province. The law
would be implemented fully from the coming
fiscal where every department would be
released amount to monitor its implementation.
The Federal Board of Revenue of Pakistan has
issued notices to 240,000 potential taxpayers
in a bid to bring them under the tax net. In
a press release issued on Monday, Director
General Broadening of Tax Base Rehmatullah
Wazir claimed to have collected transactional
and non-transactional information about these
people. The information was collected from
motor vehicle registration authorities, car
manufacturers, power companies, property
registration authorities, mobile phone
companies, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council,
Pakistan Engineering Council, Pakistan Bar
Council and Jamal’s Yellow Pages.
The US stepped up its drone campaign in
Pakistan during the first month of the year,
launching more strikes and killing more people
in a month than any since July 2014. This
was stated by the London-based Bureau of
Investigative Journalism in its monthly report
for January 2015. It said the CIA killed at least 26
people in five strikes giving January the highest
casualty rate in six months.
“Four of the five strikes reportedly targeted
the Shawal area a thickly wooded region with
steep valleys that crosses the borders of North
and South Waziristan, and of Pakistan and
Annual consumer inflation hovered at a record
low of 3.88% in January, signalling some
weakness in the economy but also giving
policymakers more room to ease policy to
support much-needed growth. The Pakistan
Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data yesterday showed
the consumer price index (CPI) inflation was
recorded at 4.3% in December 2014. Average
inflation in first seven months (July-January) of
the on-going fiscal year remained at 5.8% over
the corresponding period last year.
During last three months, CPI inflation has been
hovering around 4. It was 3.9% in November last
Taliban killed six police officers and injured
eight others in separate attacks in southern
Afghanistan, officials said yesterday. In tHelmand,
at least two police officers were killed and five
others wounded when a suicide car bomber hit a
convoy yesterday, said Omar Zwak, the provincial
governor’s spokesman. “The incident occurred
in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, when the
police forces were going to their checkpoints
outside of the city,” he said. Taliban claimed
responsibility for the bombing. On Monday, four
policemen were killed and three others injured
when dozens of Taliban insurgents attacked their
outposts in Charcheno district.
Pakistan hangs two
for sectarian murder
The two militants were
convicted of killing a doctor
in 2001 in Karachi; Some 22
people have been executed
since the deadly school
attack in Peshawar
Pakistani residents throw rose petals over ambulances as they transport the bodies of convicted militants from the banned Sunni militant
outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) from the central jail after they were executed in Karachi yesterday.
The latest sectarian outrage
was on Friday, when a suicide
bomber killed 61 people at a Shia
mosque in the southern Pakistani district of Shikarpur.
It was the deadliest attack
targeting Shias in Pakistan
since February 2013, when 89
were killed in a market bombing in the southwestern city of
Anti-Shia attacks have been
increasing in recent years in
Karachi, Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and
the far northeastern town of
Around 1,000 Shias have been
killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks
claimed by LeJ.
The country has stepped up its
fight against militants since the
Taliban school massacre in the
northwestern city of Peshawar
in December.
Heavily armed gunmen
went from room to room at
the army-run school gunning down 150 people, most
of them children, in an attack
that horrified the world.
In the aftermath the government ended a six-year moratorium on executions, restoring
them for terror-related cases,
and pledged to crack down on all
militant groups.
The roads outside Karachi
Central Prison were closed to
traffic overnight as a security
measure before the hangings.
Both the murderers were arrested in 2004 and tried in an
Anti-Terrorism Court, which
Hundreds rally as killer of
Punjab governor appeals
handed down the death sentence.
The United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch have called on Pakistan to
re-impose its moratorium on the
death penalty.
Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws
and courts to prosecute ordinary
There are also concerns that
death row convicts from cases
not related to terrorism could be
Supporters of former police bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri hold his portrait as they shout slogans calling for
his release during a protest outside the high court building in Islamabad yesterday.
of religious movement Pakistan
Sunni Tehreek shouted “The
lock of the prison will break,
Qadri will be released!” and “Be
ashamed, release Qadri!”
Qadri’s brother, urged his release.
“My brother has done nothing
wrong. He is happy and satisfied
in the prison and always prays to
God. Salman Taseer was killed
because he committed blasphemy,” he said.
Defence lawyers said they expect the appeal to be decided
within weeks.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium
on executions in terror cases in
December after Taliban gunmen
massacred 150 people at a school.
But executing someone convicted of murdering a “blasphemer” would risk a backlash
from hardline religious groups
and even more moderate public
he United States budget
for the next fiscal year,
released on Monday, includes assurance that Washington will continue to assist
Pakistan’s efforts for countering terrorism.
“For Pakistan, the budget
demonstrates our commitment to fostering stability and
prosperity, and provides security assistance that promotes
counter-terrorism and counter- insurgency capabilities,”
said a statement issued with
the budget.
“The budget continues to
support public engagement
and partnership programmes
in Pakistan and maintains
staffing in order to support
these critical US priorities,” it
The statement issued by the
US State Department assured
Islamabad and Kabul that the
budget for the next US fiscal
year “reinforces our commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
The US fiscal year begins on
Oct 1 of the current year and
ends on Sept 30 of the next
calendar year.
The $3.99tn US budget
includes $561bn in defence
outlays. There is a discretionary funding of $50.3bn for the
State Department and the US
Agency for International Development. Funds for countering terrorist activities and
helping development in Afghanistan and Pakistan come
from these two sources.
The defence budget includes funds for confrontation
with Russia over its incursion in Ukraine and the USled fight against Islamic State
militants in Iraq and Syria. It
also reserves $14bn for cybersecurity measures.
The State Department noted that Afghanistan now had
“a new reform-minded” government, which encouraged
Washington to continue its security, economic and civilian
programmes in that country.
These programmes were
“necessary to solidify the
progress made over the last
decade”, the statement said.
The budget also invests in
security improvements at diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan to sustain operations as
the US military presence continues to decline.
“The budget continues
to support public
engagement and
partnership programmes
in Pakistan and
maintains staffing in
order to support these
critical US priorities”
The $50.3bn of discretionary funding includes $7.0bn
in overseas contingency operations. Of this, $3.5bn is for
countering the ‘Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant’ and
for responding to the crisis in
About $1bn has been set aside
to address the root causes of
migration from Central America, including the migration of
unaccompanied children.
The budget also provides
funds for promoting clean energy and sustainable development in vulnerable countries.
It provides $5.4bn for international organisations and
peacekeeping missions.
A total of $4.8bn has been
set aside to support security
requirements, infrastructure
and programmes that enable
US operations and relations
with foreign governments.
The budget also allocates an
undisclosed amount of money
for countering Russian “pressure and aggressive actions”.
Teachers, schools disappointed
over security arrangements
former Pakistan police
bodyguard appealed yesterday against his death
sentence for murdering a provincial governor who sought reform of blasphemy laws, as hundreds rallied outside the court to
show support.
Mumtaz Qadri was sentenced
for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer outside an upmarket
coffee shop in Islamabad in 2011.
Qadri has admitted shooting
Taseer, saying he objected to the
politician’s calls to reform strict
blasphemy laws which can carry
the death penalty.
Around 300 of Qadri’s supporters chanted slogans calling
for his release as a two-judge
bench at Islamabad High Court
began hearing the appeal.
Qadri has been hailed as a hero
by many conservatives eager to
drown out any calls to soften the
At his original trial, Qadri was
showered with rose petals by
some lawyers. His current appeal team features two judges,
including the former chief justice of Lahore High Court.
Outside the court, protesters wearing shirts with the logo
akistan hanged two sectarian militants yesterday
for the murder of a Shia
doctor in Karachi, officials said,
the latest executions since the
government ended a moratorium
on the death penalty.
Attaullah, alias Qasim, and
Mohamed Azam were convicted
of killing doctor Ali Raza in 2001
at the busy Soldier Bazaar area
of Pakistan’s largest city, which
is racked by rising sectarian violence.
A total of 22 people have now
been executed since the government brought back hangings in terror cases amid public
outrage over a Taliban massacre
at a school that left 150 people
“They were hanged at 6:30
this morning and their bodies
have been handed to their relatives,” a prison official said on
condition of anonymity.
The convicts were both members of the banned Sunni militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
(LeJ), he added.
Unknown attackers detonated
a low-powered bomb near two
schools in Karachi yesterday and
left a note at the scene warning
of more violence if the hanging
of militants did not stop.
Pakistan has suffered a rising
tide of sectarian violence in recent years, most of it perpetrated
by hardline Sunni groups such
as LeJ against minority Shias,
who make up around 20% of the
US support for
Pak anti-terror
efforts continues
eachers’ associations in
Pakistan’s Punjab province have expressed their
disappointment at the security
measures taken for the schools
in the province.
The Punjab Teachers Union
says the security plan was not
comprehensive. PTU general
secretary Rana Liaquat Ali says
the government plan caters
only to Category A schools.
This leaves out more than 50%
of the primary and middle
schools, he adds.
Category A includes schools
that have previously received
threats of a possible terrorist
attack and have a student population of over 500, according
to the Schools Education Department.
PTU general secretary also
complained that headmasters
were being threatened with disciplinary action for their failure
to comply with the security
plan even though no funds had
been released to them for the
purpose. “Some headmasters
have spent out of their pockets
or borrowed money to avoid action against them,” he said.
In a statement released on
Sunday, the PTU had also ac-
cused the government of victimising some teachers. It said
the officials were using failure to
comply with the security plan as
a pretext to settle old scores.
The statement was released after services of two Lahore-based
headmasters were surrendered to
the SED secretary for their failure
to comply with the plan.
The executive district officer (Education) rejected the
charge. He said funds for enhancement of security measures had already been released
to the schools through the
deputy district officers as well
as the school councils.
Meanwhile, SED deputy secretary (planning and budgets)
Qaiser Rasheed claimed to have
spent Rs1.96bn on enhancing
security arrangement across
schools in the province. He denied that the government was ignoring some schools altogether.
“So far, we have released
funds to more than 4, 100
schools,” he said. Though all of
these are Category A schools,
security concerns at the remaining are being taken care of
under various other schemes.
“We are raising boundary walls at more than 14,000
schools through various government schemes for providing missing facilities,” he says.
Rasheed says the government
is working with private school
owners as well to ensure that
security arrangement at their
premises are in accordance
with the standards set in the
plan adopted following the Peshawar attack.
In a statement last week, the
All Pakistan Private Schools
(APPSMA) had demanded financial assistance from the
government for meeting the requirements of the plan. APPSMA president Adeeb Jawedani
had said that the government
should provide funds to the private schools if it wants them to
enhance security arrangements
in accordance with the new plan.
“Private schools can only
provide nominal security on
their own. They need financial
assistance to make changes in
accordance with the government’s plan,” he said.
The SED deputy secretary
ruled out the possibility of security grant.
Under the new plan, schools
are required to have the following facilities on their premises: Closed Circuit Television
(CCTV) cameras, barbed wires
atop their boundary walls, and
metal detectors at all entrances.
The plan also mandates teachers’ training in the newly-introduced security measures.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Aquino, Abad
may face
charges over
special fund
By Jomar Canlas
Manila Times
ith the final ruling of
the Supreme Court
(SC) sealing the fate
of the outlawed Disbursement Acceleration Programme
(DAP), criminal charges can
be filed against President Benigno Aquino and Budget
Secretary Florencio “Butch”
Abad since the High Court has
ruled that only the authors of
the programme can be held
Thirteen SC magistrates
did not waver in their findings
that the spending programme
was illegal. The tribunal, however, partly granted the government’s motion for reconsideration by modifying the
decision it issued in July 2014.
In its recent ruling, it said
the authors of the spending programme, Aquino and
Abad, can be taken to court.
They can only be cleared if the
court found that they acted in
good faith.
“(T)he proper tribunals
can make concrete findings of
good faith in their favour only
after a full hearing of all the
parties in any given case, and
such a hearing can begin to
proceed only after according
all the presumptions, particularly that of good faith, by initially requiring the complainants, plaintiffs or accusers to
first establish their complaints
or charges before the respondents’ authors, proponents
and implementers of DAP,”
the High Court’s spokesman,
Theodore Te, said.
“The want of good faith is
thus better determined by tribunals other than this court,
which is not a trier of facts,” he
added. The SC ruled that the
proponents and implementers
of the project will no longer be
held liable for their acts.
In its ruling, the SC cited
three reasons that made DAP
unconstitutional: the withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies, the declaration
of the withdrawn unobligated
allotments and unreleased ap-
propriations as savings, prior
to the end of the fiscal year and
without complying with the
statutory definition of savings contained in the General
Appropriations Act (GAA);
the cross-border transfers
of savings of the executive
to augment the appropriations of other offices outside
the executive; and the use of
unprogrammed funds despite
the absence of a certification
by the National Treasurer
that the revenue collections
exceeded the revenue targets
for non-compliance with the
conditions provided in the relevant GAA.
The tribunal deleted from the
list of illegal acts, the funding of
projects and activities and programmes that were not covered
by any appropriation in the GAA.
“Accordingly, so long as there
is an item in the GAA for which
Congress had set aside a specified amount of public funds,
savings may be transferred
thereto for augmentation purposes,” Te explained.
In its clarification ruling,
the SC en banc opined that “its
decision did not declare the en
masse invalidation of the 116
DAP-funded projects as the
court itself recognised the encouraging effects of the DAP on
the country’s economy.”
Malacanang welcomed the
SC ruling since it upheld the
presumption of good faith.
In a statement, Palace
spokesman Edwin Lacierda
noted that the High Court has
upheld the doctrine of operative
fact, which according to him,
“declared all acts are valid until
they are declared unconstitutional.”
“The presumption of good
faith has been preserved and
emphasised, which clarified the
previous impression that the
authors are presumed to be in
bad faith,” Lacierda said.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma
also lauded the SC ruling.
Palma, the former president of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP), campaigned against
the DAP by launching in August
last year the “People’s Initiative
Against Pork Barrel.”
Getting ready to welcome ‘Year of Goat’
A shopper looks at golden goat statuettes for sale at a store in Chinatown in Manila yesterday. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19, will welcome the ‘Year of the Goat’.
Government, Vietnam mull
key alliance against Beijing
Foreign department
spokesman Charles Jose
has said the talks focused on
issues of mutual concern
and singled out the
South China Sea issue
he Philippines and Vietnam, two of the most vocal critics of China’s attempts to claim almost all of the
South China Sea, have held talks
on forging a strategic partner-
ship, an official said yesterday.
Without naming China directly, Philippines foreign department spokesman Charles
Jose said the talks focused on
issues of mutual concern and
singled out the South China Sea
issue, a territorial dispute involving several countries in the
He said the talks were held
last week and involved Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del
Rosario and Vietnamese Foreign
Minister Pham Binh Minh.
“It is important because we
share common concerns in this
‘Double Down Dog’ of KFC
unleashed in Philippines
A man eats a “Double Down Dog,” in Manila yesterday, a product conceived and introduced by the Philippine
franchise of KFC.
just feeding the illnesses, gout,
diabetes and heart disease out
there. It’s sad that this is sort of
a reflection of what the fastfood
industry is,” Gonzales said.
There aren’t any plans to
market the product outside the
Philippines, but it has spread
beyond the country’s borders
on social media.
“KFC debuts latest food
travesty” said the news web-
site Mashable, while the pop
culture website Uproxx called it
“KFC’s latest fast food abomination”. “Thank you, Satan for
designing the Double Down
Dog,” read one Twitter post.
the waters. The Philippines and
Vietnam have in recent years
accused China of increasingly
flexing its military muscle in the
This has included the deployment of a Chinese oil rig to
the north of the Spratlys which
raised tensions with Vietnam
last year.
Jose said “discussions are still
ongoing but both sides agreed to
elevate the relations to a higher
He stressed that “security and
defence” were part of the partnership but that it would also
cover economic and trade issues.
The Philippines presently has
strategic partnerships with the
US and Japan, he added.
Last month, del Rosario said
he would warn fellow members
of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (Asean), including Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, that China’s efforts in the region were a threat to all of them.
China’s official news agency in
turn, on likened the Philippines
to a “crying baby” for seeking such international support
against its actions in disputed
Lawmakers set to delay
passage of Bangsamoro bill
By Llanesca T Panti
Manila Times
astfood giant KFC in the
Philippines has begun
selling a hotdog wrapped
in fried chicken instead of bread
and covered in cheese sauce to
the horror of dieticians and
amusement of social media users.
The “Double Down Dog”
seeks to exploit Filipinos’ love
for hotdogs and fried chicken,
KFC Philippines marketing director Errol Magdato said.
“We know that Filipinos
are very adventurous when it
comes to food and we know
how much we love hotdogs,”
Magdato said in an email response to queries sent by AFP.
He shrugged off the ridicule
that has been heaped on the
saying that in terms of calories it was “basically the same
or slightly less than” a double
cheeseburger and that it has
had good feedback from customers.
KFC initially offered the
‘dog’ for two days in late January with only 50 sold in select
restaurants, but it has now become part of the menu.
Vegan cook Marie Gonzalez,
who runs a gourmet food company in Manila, described the
Double Down Dog as “disgusting”.
“An all-meat sandwich is
region especially when it comes
to the South China Sea issue,” he
told reporters.
He described the issue as “one
of the moving forces,” behind the
planned partnership.
The Philippines and Vietnam
have been the most outspoken
countries in the region in criticising China’s efforts to claim
virtually all of the South China
Sea, which contains major sea
lanes and fishing grounds and is
believed to hold vast mineral resources.
Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan
also have conflicting claims to
he House of Representatives has scrapped
its self-imposed March
deadline for passage of the
proposed Bangsamoro Basic
Law (BBL).
Cagayan de Oro City representative Rufus Rodriguez,
chairman of the ad hoc committee on the BBL, yesterday said it will be impossible
for the chamber to pass the
measure since the Philippine National Police and the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) failed to submit substantive reports on
the Mamasapano clash in
Maguindanao that killed 44
members of the PNP-Special
Action Force (SAF).
“Frankly, we will not be able
to meet that (March) deadline.
We still have to receive reports
from the PNP and the Armed
Forces on the incident, as well
as the OPAPP and the ARMM,
by February 9. We have to discuss such reports and invite
certain people here to verify
the reports,” Rodriguez told
reporters, referring to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and
the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao.
“We need these reports in
full because these will affect many BBL provisions,” he
In a news conference, Ako
Bicol party-list representative
Rodel Batocabe, spokesman
for the Party-list Coalition
Foundation Inc (PCF), said
their 39-member bloc has
agreed to call for the suspension of committee hearings on
the BBL until such time that
the investigation of the Philippine National Police’s Board
of Inquiry (BOI) of the incident is concluded.
“Frankly, we will not be
able to meet that (March)
deadline. We still have
to receive reports from
the PNP and the Armed
Forces on the incident,
as well as the OPAPP and
the ARMM, by February 9.
We have to discuss such
reports and invite
certain people here to
verify the reports”
“Our coalition urges the
committee to suspend all deliberations until such time
that the culpability of those
responsible are determined.
There cannot be peace without justice,” Batocabe added.
The panel asked the PNP
for a copy of the organisation
plan of Oplan Wolverine, the
top-secret mission for the
pursuit of the international
terrorist Marwan, as well as
the post-operation report
on the incident and the decommissioning pact for the
MILF’s gradual turning over
of arms to the government.
Muslim lawmakers, however, called on their colleagues
not to use the Mamasapano
incident as a deterrent to
The joint statement of
Muslim legislators was signed
by Deputy Speaker Pangalian
Balindong of Lanao del Sur
alongside representatives Tupay Loong of Sulu, Jim Hataman of Basilan, Bai Sandra
Sema of Cotabato City, Ansaruddin Adiong of Lanao del
Sur, Maryam Napil Arbison of
Sulu, Zajid Mangudadatu of
Maguindanao, Ruby Sahali of
Tawi-Tawi, Raden Sakaluran
of Sultan Kudarat and Sitti
Hataman of Abante Mindanao
“As representatives of the
different Muslim political
constituencies, we renew our
commitment of support to
His Excellency, President Benigno Aquino, in his search
for meaningful, lasting and
sustainable peace as we also
assure not only the concerned
families but the entire Filipino
nation of our willingness to
support any investigation or
measure that will give justice
where it is due,” the group
“We condemn the incident
as highly unfortunate in the
wake of our determined and
sustained effort to promote
genuine peace, more particularly in Muslim Mindanao,
through the enactment of
the Bangsamoro Basic Law
that intends to give essence
and substance to the Comprehensive Agreement on the
Bangsamoro,” the lawmakers
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
7 burnt to death after bus
firebombed in Bangladesh
nti-government protesters firebombed a bus full
of sleeping passengers in
eastern Bangladesh yesterday,
killing seven in spiralling political unrest aimed at toppling
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Several passengers were also
critically injured in the attack
in the town of Chauddagram
which was blamed on activists from the main opposition
Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) led by two-time former
premier Khaleda Zia.
“Seven passengers were
burnt to death in the bus after
the petrol bomb was thrown at
4am,” district police chief Tuttul Chakrabarty said by phone.
“Five of the passengers are
fighting for their life as 40-80%
of their bodies were burnt. They
have been shifted to a hospital
in the capital,” he said.
“It’s an act of murder and
we’re going to hunt down
One person also died from
burn injuries yesterday from
an attack on a van overnight
in the capital, a doctor at
the Dhaka Medical College
Hospital said.
The deaths bring the toll in
the month-long protests to 54
- most of them victims of firebomb attacks on buses and lorries - as opposition activists try
to enforce a transport blockade.
Authorities have stepped up
the pressure on 69-year-old
Zia, who has been holed up in
her office since January 3, in a
bid to halt the violence.
She called the protests early
last month, urging supporters
to enforce a nationwide blockade of roads, railways and waterways to force Hasina to call a
fresh election.
The BNP and its allies boycotted the last poll in January
2014, saying they believed the
result would be rigged.
Authorities on Monday ordered a probe into allegations
of murder against Zia over the
deadly protests, while a media magnate who is one of her
closest aides was arrested.
Survivors of yesterday’s attack said the bus was packed
with local tourists returning
overnight from the resort town
of Cox’s Bazaar to the capital
“I woke up hearing loud cries
and saw people burning in the
bus. I jumped through the window and found a friend in flames.
I doused the fire but his condition is critical,” one survivor
told private Ekattur TV.
Up to 15 people were injured
after they jumped from the vehicle’s windows to try to escape the blaze, the police chief
Police inspector Mahfuzur
Rahman said that authorities
suspected BNP activists were
behind the petrol bomb. Raids
were carried out on local villages near the location of the attack
but no arrests were made.
In another attack yesterday, four people suffered burn
injuries after a petrol bomb
was thrown at a moving train
outside Dhaka, police said.
Hundreds of people have
been injured since the protests
started, while local media say
more than 850 vehicles have
been gutted or damaged and inter-city transport services have
ground to a halt.
A resident who suffered burn injuries after a petrol bomb attack on a bus was treated by a doctor at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in
Dhaka yesterday.
Security forces have launched
a nationwide crackdown — but
the arrest of more than 10,000
opposition supporters appears
to have done little to quell the
Zia denies her BNP and its Is-
lamist allies are responsible for
the firebombings and has demanded the release of detained
opposition officials and leaders.
To press her demands, her
party announced that a threeday strike that had been set to
Commonwealth backs
Lanka’s new war probe
he Commonwealth
yesterday welcomed
Sri Lanka’s plans to
establish a “credible” inquiry into war crimes allegations, after talks with
new President Maithripala
Sirisena and the former
Se c re ta ry- G e n e ra l
Kamalesh Sharma also offered Commonwealth assistance to set up the judicial inquiry into allegations
troops killed thousands of
Tamil civilians during the
final stages of its ethnic war.
“We have discussed
Commonwealth support
for these vital domestic
processes, and welcome
the intent to establish a
credible domestic investigation mechanism that
humanitarian law,” Sharma said at the end of a
three-day visit.
Sirisena pledged during
last month’s election campaign to set up a probe into
allegations 40,000 civilians
were killed in the final push
of the separatist conflict
that ended in 2009.
Sirisena defeated former
strongman Mahinda Rajapakse who had long resisted international pressure to conduct a probe
over fake
into the allegations which
are the subject of a UNmandated
Rajapakse hosted a Commonwealth summit in Colombo in November 2013
that was boycotted by
several heads of state over
his insistence that not one
civilian was killed.
Rajapakse is credited
with crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels who at the height
of their power between
1990 and 1995 controlled
a third of Sri Lanka’s territory. Sharma said the Commonwealth was pleased
Colombo was moving to
memorialise all those who
died in the conflict.
“We were pleased to
Flags for sale
A Sri Lankan vendor rides his bike as he sells national flags ahead of the
island’s Independence Day in Colombo. Sri Lanka is preparing to mark
the 67th anniversary of independence from Britain on February 4.
learn that the government
is currently considering the
necessary steps to address
Sri Lanka’s accountability
and reconciliation needs,”
Sharma said.
The UN estimates that at
least 100,000 people died in
the war between 1972 and
2009. The previous government had not allowed
ethnic minority Tamils to
honour their war dead and
Tamil rebel cemeteries were
bulldozed after the end of
the war.
The new government has
promised a South Africanstyle truth and reconciliation commission to help
Tamils and ethnic majority Sinhalese come to terms
with the war.
Strong ‘judiciary can
help avoid foreign
A strong judiciary in Sri Lanka will help
avoid an international probe into war
crimes allegedly committed by the military
in the war against the Tamil Tigers, the
government said yesterday.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera
said the government needed to convince
the world that Sri Lanka’s judiciary was
competent, independent and impartial,
Xinhua reported.
“An international inquiry, initiated last year,
is now currently nearing completion,” the
minister said.
“The results of this inquiry could lead to Sri
Lankan armed forces and other civilians
appearing before an international tribunal
unless tangible steps are swiftly taken to
restore judicial credibility,” he said.
“It is the previous administration’s failure
to set up credible domestic mechanisms
that has led to our current difficulties,” he
Rights groups have accused the military of
killing thousands of Tamil civilians in the
last stages of the war that vanquished the
Tamil Tigers in May 2009.
The minister said the challenge was
to ensure that Sri Lanka does not face
economic sanctions and a tarnished
The minister defended the removal
of controversial Chief Justice Mohan
Peiris, saying he acted in violation of the
international standards of judicial conduct.
end yesterday would now be
extended until Thursday.
Hasina has accused her bitter rival Zia of trying to trigger anarchy. Authorities last
week charged the opposition
leader with abetting and in-
stigating the firebombings.
Western countries including
the EU, the impoverished nation’s biggest export destination, have urged Hasina’s government and the opposition to
hold talks to resolve the crisis.
leading Sri Lankan politician was arrested on Monday based on a complaint
lodged by Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe, police said.
Former health minister Tissa
Attanayake was apprehended
over a document which he had
made public before the January
8 presidential election, alleging
a secret deal between newlyelected President Maithripala
Sirisena and Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe, Xinhua quoted police spokesperson Ajith
Rohana as saying.
Attanayake had displayed the
document at election rallies held
in support of former president
Mahinda Rajapakse, which also
showed signatures purported to
be that of Wickremesinghe and
Once the general secretary of
the former opposition United
National Party which is now
the ruling party, Attanayake
had claimed that Wickremesinghe and Sirisena had reached
an agreement even before they
decided to work together at the
presidential vote.
Rohana said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had filed
a complaint last month, saying the signatures on the documents were forged and had
urged for a probe.
Wickremesinghe and Sirisena
had strongly denied the existence of such a document and
accused Attanayake of forging
their signatures.
Sirisena defeated Rajapakse in
the January presidential poll and
since then has launched a crackdown on alleged corrupt deals of
the former government.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
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Telephone 44350478 (news),
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Unsustainably low
oil can upset markets
and deter investment
As the global oil market has lost more than 50% of its
value since June last year when prices were hovering
above $100 a barrel, oil companies, especially US shale
players, are taking a back-breaking hit.
Exxon Mobil Corp said on Monday its quarterly
profit fell 21% amid weaker prices. The company will
cut its share buyback programme in the first quarter by
more than half to $1bn. Rival Chevron Corp has said it
suspended its buyback programme for the year.
Investors have pumped more than $1.4tn into the
oil and gas industry over the past five years as prices
averaged more than $91. The infusion helped lift US
crude output to the highest in more than 30 years,
according to Bloomberg data. But the current bear
market, with oil having plunged below $46, has wiped
out a total of $393bn from the market since June.
The number of US rigs drilling for oil has now fallen
24% from 1,609 to just 1,223 since early October,
according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes.
Several prominent forecasters have said the rig count
will fall below 1,000 by the end of the first quarter.
The oil market is seen set for “more problems” this
year as increasing supplies from countries, including
Russia and Iraq, add to the global glut, Bloomberg has
quoted Morgan Stanley
as saying. In addition,
output gains from
fields in West Africa,
Latin America, the US
and Canada may offset
supply concerns in
Falling prices, for sure, can unsettle the demandsupply balance in the long-term. Cheap oil can
cut investments to develop new oil and gas fields.
ConocoPhillips has said it would trim its 2015 capital
budget by 20%, or about $3bn, one of the biggest
cuts by a US oil firm in dollar terms. Near-term,
projects worth more than $150bn are likely to be put
on hold. The result is higher energy costs and fewer
alternatives once global demand revives.
In the Gulf, governmental spending plans have
largely been unchanged vis-a-vis a lower-oil-priceenvironment. But state-owned oil companies have
announced prudent cost-cutting measures in the
face of consistently lower prices. Qatar Petroleum
is reportedly rationalising its spending plans and is
understood to be planning to streamline its workforce
to become a more efficient and leaner corporation and
better utilise its resources. Saudi Aramco has cancelled
a number projects and put on hold its deepwater
exploration and drilling activities in the Red Sea.
Meantime, investors are increasingly divided over
the direction of crude oil prices. But just as oil prices
above $100 throughout much of 2012-2014 were
unsustainably high, current prices below $60 are
unsustainably low, says Reuters market analyst John
There are, of course, gainers and losers from the
nosedive in global crude prices and the plunge is
generally seen as aiding global growth. But the longer
it takes to arrive at a sustainable price level, which
would encourage future energy investments, the
harder will the hit be on oil market stability.
Indictments against ECB
are baseless and confusing
In today’s world of global
monetary interdependence,
the rule of the game is that
every currency union should
pursue its own price stability
By Jean Pisani-Ferry
n Northern Europe, especially
Germany, the European Central
Bank’s decision to embark on
quantitative easing (QE) has
triggered an avalanche of indictments.
Many are unfounded or even baseless.
Some are confusing. Others give
greater weight to speculative dangers
than to actual ones. And few point to
real problems, while ignoring potential
Judging by the criticism, one might
consider zero inflation a blessing.
But if that were true, central banks
around the world would have set it as
a target long ago. Instead, all of them
define price stability as low, stable, but
positive inflation.
That is because zero inflation
has three overwhelmingly negative
consequences. First, it erodes the
effectiveness of standard monetary
policy (because if interest rates went
much below zero, depositors would
withdraw cash from banks and put
it in safes). Second, it makes relative
wages (of, say, manufacturing versus
services employees) more rigid,
because wage contracts are generally
set in euro terms. And, third, it
increases the burden of past debts and
makes exiting from a private or public
debt crisis even more painful.
But, say the critics, there is
no reason to worry, because the
eurozone’s near-zero inflation is
merely the result of the sharp drop
in oil prices. Unfortunately, there
is indeed plenty of reason to worry.
Consumer price inflation in the
eurozone has been below target for
22 consecutive months – long before
the price of oil started collapsing.
Cheaper oil is a boon for growth; but
it also lowers long-term inflation
expectations, which are the true target
of monetary policy.
Then there is the critics’ claim that
below-target inflation is needed to
restore competitiveness. This is just
confusing. It is true that rebalancing
competitiveness within the eurozone
has not yet been completed, and that
some countries thus need to record
below-average inflation to cut aboveaverage costs. But this is not true of
the eurozone as a whole. Eurozonewide competitiveness depends on
product quality and the euro exchange
rate, which is flexible. Inflation is
irrelevant in this respect.
The argument that
QE will destroy fiscal
discipline cannot be
rejected out of hand
Nonetheless, the ECB’s critics fear
the sorcerer’s apprentice: monetary
initiatives like QE will ultimately cause
runaway inflation. This reasoning is
strange, at best. If the critics’ point
is that central banks make mistakes,
it seems worth pointing out that the
mistake made in the eurozone was
to let inflation reach excessively low
Now the ECB is reacting with force,
but, as Japanese policymakers have
found, exiting from deflation is far
from easy. ECB president Mario Draghi
may fail to bring inflation back to 2%.
Or he may overshoot. Nobody knows.
But it is odd to claim that a speculative
danger should prevent the ECB from
fighting one that is all too real.
Then comes the claim that QE
is illegal. But the ECB’s primary
responsibility is to achieve and
maintain price stability. When
conventional interest-rate policy
becomes impotent, its duty is to rely
on other instruments. The purchase
of government bonds is explicitly
authorised by the EU Treaty.
This is not to say that QE has no
downside. It probably will create
asset-price bubbles. Ultra-low
interest rates lift asset prices in
two ways: they increase the present
value of the future income stream
of a stock or a fixed-income bond;
and they make credit and property
purchases more affordable. So
asset-price inflation is likely, and
policymakers will have to contain
it through regulatory tools, such as
credit limits.
Moreover, QE probably will increase
inequality. The rise in the price of
stocks, bonds and land will increase
their owners’ wealth. Obviously, those
without property will not benefit.
But the ECB’s monetary initiative will
also help reignite growth and create
jobs, thereby benefiting the poor. It
is governments’ task to address the
rise in inequality resulting from QE,
and they have an instrument for that:
When the United States Federal
Reserve embarked on QE, it was
accused of exporting its problems,
because aggressive monetary
easing inevitably weakens the
currency. The same charge is now
being leveleld against the ECB.
But this is misleading. Ultimately,
the US recovery helped its trade
partners more than it hurt them. In
today’s world of global monetary
interdependence, the rule of the game
is that every currency union should
pursue its own price stability. The ECB
has not departed from this standard.
Another major concern in Germany
is that QE could be a backdoor means
of creating Eurobonds. But a Eurobond
is a pact among issuers offering each
other mutual guarantees. The ECB,
however, is not an issuer; it is an
independent agency, and the decision
to buy is its own. Furthermore, 80%
of the risk will be borne by national
central banks individually.
Northern European opposition
to Eurobonds reflects moral-hazard
concerns that monetary activism will
discourage structural reforms.
But, in the current context of
protracted stagnation, the TINA (there
is no alternative) argument for reform
is losing strength by the day. Absent
a visible payoff, reform fatigue is
setting in. The new policy mix should
combine macro-level support and
micro-level change.
The argument that QE will destroy
fiscal discipline cannot be rejected out
of hand, because both its proponents
and its adversaries seem to agree
that its days are over. But, though it
is true that ECB bond purchases will
shelter governments from market
pressure, such pressure was already
fairly ineffective. It is governments’
job to uphold their end of the bargain
and ensure that they do not shirk their
responsibilities. This is what the EU’s
“fiscal compact” is for.
Finally, German critics complain
that the ECB’s monetary policy is
not geared to German economic
conditions. This is both true and
unavoidable. The ECB is responsible
for the eurozone as a whole. Its
monetary policy cannot be perfectly
suited to all members’ needs all of the
time. For the euro’s first 10 years, the
ECB’s policy was too lax for Spain;
now it is too lax for Germany. The ECB
should not be blamed for doing its job.
- Project Syndicate
zJean Pisani-Ferry is a professor at the
Hertie School of Governance in Berlin,
and currently serves as the French
government’s commissioner-general
for policy planning.
Investors are
divided over
the direction of
crude oil prices
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Supporters hold up a portrait of Muhammadu Buhari, presidential candidate from the All Progressives Congress party, during an election rally in Gombe.
Shifting trends as Nigeria vote nears
By Ben Simon and
Aderogba Obisesan
ess than two weeks from
national polls, Nigeria’s ruling
party is facing unprecedented
shifts in the politics of
religion that could spell trouble for
the incumbent, President Goodluck
While he may still be the favourite
on February 14, experts said two key
factors could remove his Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) from power
for the first time since the end of
military rule in 1999.
First, opposition leader
Muhammadu Buhari, a northern
Muslim, has gained surprising traction
in the mostly Christian south, despite
sustained PDP efforts to paint him as
an extremist.
The PDP could also suffer a
historically lopsided defeat in the
Muslim-majority north, where
the party has previously drawn
considerable support, even when a
Christian was at the top of the ticket.
Buhari, a former army general
who led a military government for 20
months from December 1983, is hardly
the dream candidate for many in the
south, experts said.
Some southerners have an
entrenched antipathy towards
Muslims from the Hausa ethnic
PDP efforts to brand Buhari as an
extremist devoted to Islamic law
have also been successful, said John
Campbell, a former US ambassador
to Nigeria, now with the Council on
Foreign Relations.
“It is grossly unfair. I know him. He
is not an extremist but these things
resonate,” he told AFP.
“The issue of religion
is very present in all
our elections and will
be in this one”
Buhari, from the All Progressives
Congress (APC) party, is making his
fourth run at the presidency and has
been billed as Nigeria’s chief anticorruption campaigner, helping him
attract nationwide support.
Analyst Jibrin Ibrahim agreed
that for the first time in religiously
divided Nigeria, governance could be
“surpassing religion” as a campaign
“The issue of religion is very present
in all our elections and will be in this
one,” said Ibrahim, from the Centre
for Democracy and Development in
“What I think is new about these
elections is that it is really about the
failures of Jonathan.
“There are voters in the south who
don’t particularly like Buhari but they
have been extremely disappointed
with the last four years and that could
shift support to Buhari.”
Jonathan has been heavily criticised
for his apparent failure to reduce graft
in Africa’s most populous country and
top economy, where billions of dollars
in public money have been stolen,
especially in the oil sector.
Boko Haram’s brutal uprising
has also worsened each year under
Jonathan’s watch, with more than
13,000 people killed since 2009.
The PDP has won all four
presidential elections since 1999 with
support from both the north and the
south, which it secured through an
unwritten power-sharing agreement
within the party.
Power brokers in both regions “were
comfortable using the PDP as a venue
through which they would arrive at
a rough consensus” because it was
understood that each side would get
its turn in charge, Campbell said.
The 2010 death in office of
Jonathan’s predecessor, HausaMuslim Umaru Musa Yar’Adua “put
that agreement in disarray”, analyst
Idiyat Hassan wrote on the African
Arguments blog.
Jonathan’s rise from the vicepresidency and his refusal to stand
aside for a northerner in 2011 caused
initial cracks in the PDP’s national
His insistence on running for a
second term in 2015 split the party,
with the north emerging as “the great
losers” of the once dominant PDP
coalition, Campbell said.
Several key northern politicians
have quit the PDP and joined the APC
over the last two years, including Rabiu
Kwankwaso, governor of the north’s
most populous state, Kano, which has
five million registered voters.
Jonathan beat Buhari by roughly
10mn votes in 2011, winning roughly
8mn in the north and the religiously
divided central states.
If Jonathan’s support in the north
collapses and Buhari makes inroads in
the south, analysts said the president
could lose.
Buhari is helped by the fact that he
is leading a united opposition, unlike
in 2011 when rival candidates peeled
off more than 3mn votes.
Some argue that parties spend
too much effort striving for ethnoreligious balance, noting that the
most popular presidential ticket since
independence in 1960 - the 1993
campaign of the Social Democratic
Party - contained two Muslims.
Moshood Abiola and running mate
Baba Gana Kingibe were easily on track
to win the polls before military ruler
Ibrahim Babangida nullified the vote.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
A strategy to fight malicious hackers
Hacking is as old as
wireless itself
By Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
ife, Oscar Wilde famously
said, imitates Art far more
than Art imitates Life. In the
case of Sony Pictures’ movie
The Interview, the world found itself
confronted with a further iteration:
life imitating art imitating life. The
movie’s release sparked international
intrigue, drama and shadowy
geopolitical power struggles. It even
prompted a grave US presidential
address – all for a simple case of
Hacking into information
systems is nothing new; it goes
hand in hand with the emergence of
telecommunications. One of the first
attacks struck Guglielmo Marconi’s
demonstration of radio transmission
in 1903, when he communicated
from Cornwall to London, 300 miles
Nevil Maskelyne, a music-hall
magician and would-be wireless
tycoon, who had been frustrated
by the Italian inventor’s patents,
managed to take control of the system
and broadcast obscene messages to
the Royal Institution’s scandalised
Though hacking is as old as wireless
itself, much has changed since
Marconi’s time. Information networks
now blanket our planet, collecting
and transferring immense amounts of
data in real time. They enable many
familiar activities: instantaneous
communications, social media,
financial transactions and logistics
Most important, information is
no longer sequestered in a virtual
realm, but permeates the environment
in which we live. The physical,
biological, and digital worlds have
begun to converge – giving rise to
what scientists refer to as “cyberphysical systems”.
Automobiles, for example, have
evolved from straightforward
mechanical systems into veritable
computers on wheels. The same
thing is happening to other consumer
goods: We now have connected
washing machines and learning
thermostats, not to mention Bluetooth
toothbrushes and computerised infant
Indeed, cyber-physical systems
range from the macro level (think
urban transport, like Uber) to the
micro (say, the beating of a human
heart). Our very bodies, strapped
with connected wearables, are today
imbued with more computing power
than all of Nasa at the time of the
Apollo missions.
All of this promises to
revolutionise many aspects of human
life – mobility, energy management,
healthcare, and much more – and
may point toward a greener and more
efficient future.
But cyber-physical systems also
heighten our vulnerabilities to
malicious hacking, an issue that
was discussed at the recent World
Economic Forum in Davos. Far
from being isolated in cyberspace,
attacks can now have devastating
consequences in the physical world. It
is an annoyance when a software virus
crashes our computers; but what if the
virus crashes our cars?
Malicious hackers are difficult to
combat with traditional government
and industry tools – the Sony
Pictures case being a telling
example. Hacking can be carried
out anywhere and everywhere,
potentially involving multiple
networks in obscure locations. It
defies conventional retaliation and
protection strategies.
be to promote widespread adoption
of hacking itself. Familiarity with
hackers’ tools and methods provides
a powerful advantage in diagnosing
the strength of existing systems, and
even in designing tighter security from
the bottom up – a practice known as
“white hat” hacking.
Ethical infiltration enables a
security team to render digital
networks more resistant to attack
by identifying the flaws. This may
become routine practice – a kind of
cyber fire drill – for governments
and businesses, even as academic
and industry research focuses in the
coming years on the development of
further technical safeguards.
In general, today’s defences
take the form of autonomous,
constantly vigilant digital
“supervisors” – computers and
code that control other computers
and code. Similar to traditional
military command-and-control
protocols, they gain power in
numbers and can quickly react to a
broad array of attacks.
Such a digital ecosystem
strengthens checks and balances,
reducing the possibility of failure and
mitigating the effects of an incursion.
In such a future scenario, a
Hollywood blockbuster might be
about networks of computers fighting
each other, while humans stand by.
It would portray the broader idea of
“singularity”, a hypothetical turning
point when the artificial surpasses the
human. Fortunately, in this case, life
is still far from imitating art. - Project
As then-US defence secretary Leon
Panetta warned in 2012, given its
current systems, the United States is
vulnerable to a “cyber Pearl Harbour”
that could derail trains, poison water
supplies, and cripple power grids.
So, how can such a scenario be
One option, surprisingly, could
zCarlo Ratti directs the
Senseable City Laboratory at
the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and heads the World
Economic Forum’s Global Agenda
Council on Future Cities. Matthew
Claudel is a research fellow at the
Senseable City Laboratory.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Help school to
find new premises
Dear Sir,
Indians form the largest expatriate
community in Qatar. They work in
various sectors, covering both the
skilled and unskilled ones. Many
of them live in Qatar with their
families. But it is becoming extremely
difficult for them to get admission
for their children in the MES Indian
school, easily one of their favourite
educational institutions in Qatar.
The MES school, it is understood, is
looking for additional premises to
accommodate new pupils. I hope it
will succeed in its mission.
Th school’s fee structure is
affordable and its teaching standards
are excellent. I can stand testimony
to these since my two children had
undergone their studies in this great
institution and have become topnotch professionals. But for the MES
school, they would not have achieved
their present success.
I fervently appeal to the Indian
embassy, the Indian Community
Benevolent Forum (ICBF) and other
groups to urgently assist MES to
find suitable premises or render any
support to it as required.
This will help MES to scale new
heights which, as an institution, it
richly deserves, and enable it to admit
new students without any hassles.
V Kalyanaraman
(e-mail address supplied)
Dear Sir,
I was surprised to read the letter,
“Stop dog-fouling on pavements”
(Gulf Times, February 3). It is very
seldom I come across people walking
dogs on Doha’s roads. Maybe it is a
problem peculiar to the Al Waab area.
In the area where I live I hardly see
anyone walking his/her dog. But I
agree that it is not good that people
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allow their dogs foul on pavements.
Please make it a habit to clean up after
your dog. In some Western cities, it is an
offence not to pick up your dog’s mess. I
guess one can buy disposal bags at a pet
store or use shopping/grocery bags to
collect the mess.
(Full name and address supplied)
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Why we tell strangers our secrets
By Oliver Burkeman
sk around and you’ll discover
a mysterious truth about
travelling on planes and
trains: almost everyone can
recall being stuck next to a stranger
who wouldn’t stop boring on about
his health, job or marriage, yet almost
nobody will admit to being that
seatmate themselves. Maybe there
really is one guy who spends his life
oversharing on public transport, and
we’ve all bumped into him.
But a more likely explanation,
in light of studies by the Harvard
sociologist Mario Luis Small, is
that we confide in strangers more
than we realise. Many scholars have
long assumed our “core discussion
network” to be those to whom we’re
The modern romantic ideal is to
“marry your best friend”, someone
who is lover, confidant, co-parent
and buddy in one. Yet when asked
who they’d most recently confided
in, almost half the respondents said it
wasn’t someone important to them,
but a bartender, hairdresser – or
maybe you, trapped in the window
seat on a six-hour flight.
You could take this as terrible
news: in a lonely, atomised society,
do we simply turn in desperation to
whoever will listen? In a minority of
cases, Small found, sheer availability
was indeed the motive, but at least
sometimes, he argues, we seek out
non-intimates precisely because
they’re non-intimate. For one thing,
you’re not going to discuss your
extramarital affair with your spouse,
and you might not want one sibling
gossiping to another about your
money troubles.
More subtly, we like indulging
in “downward social comparison”,
cheering ourselves with the thought
that we’re doing better than others.
And that’s harder to do with intimates,
since if you think of your dearest
friend as a loser, what does that say
about you?
There are benefits, too, in the blank
canvas of someone you don’t know
well. This helps explain the cliche of the
therapist who answers every personal
question with a question (“Why is it
important to you to know that?”).
A psychoanalyst, Freud said,
“should be opaque to his patients
and, like a mirror, should show them
nothing but what is shown to him”.
Learning that your shrink has three
kids and likes playing the harmonica,
he thought, would interfere with the
psychoanalytic process.
But you needn’t buy Freud’s theory
to see the upsides of being forced to
really hear your own words, and think
about them. By contrast, a close friend
might jump in with reassurances,
or suggestions as to how he or she
would respond in your shoes – wellmeaning, but not always helpful.
Perhaps our fondness for
confiding in non-intimates is more
evidence for what’s been called, in
possibly sociology’s most famous
paper, the“strength of weak ties”.
Many of the benefits we get from
belonging to social networks, it
transpires, come not from our
strongest bonds, but weaker ones.
(Jobseekers, the original paper
argued, find more work vacancies
through weaker ties.)
And it makes you wonder how many
marriages and friendships might be
saved by not demanding that they
fulfil every possible function of a
relationship. Anyway, I’ll stop talking
and let you get back to your book. I
think we’ll be landing soon.- Guardian
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Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
One of the resort’s luxury ferries that has a capacity to transport 45 people at a time. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
45,000 visit isle resort
month after opening
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
Elias El Khoury, the resort’s director of Sales and Marketing,
expressed optimism on what the resort can offer even during
the hot season.
The resort’s ‘Over Water Villas’.
anana Island Resort Doha
by Anantara received more
than 45,000 visitors since
its official opening on January 1,
Elias El Khoury, director of sales
and marketing, has said.
The official noted that the
number included those who
came for lunch or dinner in restaurants and cafes in the resort.
“(On Monday) we had around
900 people on the island and
yesterday we have approximately
800 persons,” El Khoury told reporters at a media tour yesterday.
He said they receive between
180 and 200 people on some days
who take a short visit to the island and leave in the afternoon or
The resort’s main customer
base remains Qatari who com-
prised about 85% of its target
market, according to El Khoury.
It is followed by Saudis, Kuwaitis,
Emiratis, Bahrainis and Omanis.
While it focuses on GCC countries, he said they also expect
other markets such as Germany
and some European countries,
the US and Brazil to grow.
The luxury brand’s first resort
in Qatar has 141 guest rooms,
suites and villas designed in
splendid Arabian style with signature Anantara touches. Its
three-bedroom ‘Over Water Villas’ offer 360sq m of space and a
62sq m personal pool – ideal for
families and groups of friends.
The resort also features various water sport fun ranging from
kayaking, pedalos and stand up
paddle boarding, wakeboarding,
banana boat, triple tube and donut rides, water and jet skiing,
and fishing trips.
El Khoury stressed that all
The Doha skyline can be viewed from a restaurant on the resort.
its beach area and pools are for
clients’ stay only. Those who
booked for lunch and dinner, as
well as for the wellness and recreation centres, will not be given
access to these two amenities.
“We are trying to make a lot of
privacy for our clients,” he said.
“We are making some limita-
tions especially during weekends
when we have very high ‘stay in’
occupancy.” “We are doing this to
serve all our clients better.”
Restaurant bookings cost
QR200 per person which includes a two-way ferry ride from
the Al Shyoukh Terminal. Children below three-years old are
exempt from the entrance fee.
QR50 goes to administration
fees, mainly for the transportation, while the remaining QR150
will be credited for the client’s
food consumption in a restaurant.
“Whatever you consume (over
QR150) you will have to pay for
it,” said El Khoury.
He noted that their ferries operate 24 hours a day to serve their
local and international clients.
The resort currently employs
468 employees but the number
will increase to 655 by the end
of this month or in the middle of
March. Some stay at the resort
while others come from their accommodation in Doha.
Asked about their expectations in the coming hot season, El
Khoury has expressed optimism
on the potential of the resort.
“Let us see how the market will
react,” he said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
GU-Q’s anniversary celebrations
kick off with two-day conference
By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter
eorgetown University in
Qatar (GU-Q) has started
its 10th year anniversary
celebrations with a two-day conference titled, “Scapes of Power:
A Critical Appraisal” yesterday.
The university will hold a gala
event today evening to mark the
Dr Gerd Nonneman, dean
GU-Q said that the university has
been a great facilitator of education and research in the country
for the past 10 years.
He said: “It has been able to
contribute to education and research in Qatar in a big way and
the concept of school of foreign
services has been well established, with our alumni serving
various sectors in Qatar and outside. Our multicultural community of alumni, students and faculty have helped to create some
of the most meaningful research
and relevant knowledge about international affairs and the Middle
East, right here in Doha”
The GU- Q dean added: “We
opened the Qatar campus of
Georgetown a decade ago with
two dozen students and a few
faculty members. Today, Georgetown in Qatar is a research
powerhouse, constantly adding
to the global body of knowledge
about matters local, regional and
international, and helping to lay
the foundations for a sustainable
research ecosystem that will be a
lasting legacy for both Georgetown and Qatar.”
The conference started with a
presentation by Dr Laura Doyle,
a professor at the University of
“Inter-imperial Powerscapes” in
which she discussed and gave an
appraisal of historical and contemporary examples of power
Qatar Airways
to offer Oscar
nominee films on
board this month
Dr Gerd Nonneman
PICTURE: Shameer Rasheed
expressed through cultural, social, economic and political institutions.She explained the idea
of three dimensional cultural and
historical movements which are
lateral, among the empires, vectoral–amid the empires and temporal- across the empires.
Dr Sherman Jackson, a professor at the University of Southern
California, will deliver a keynote
address today on “Islam and
Power: Between Shari’ah and the
Islamic Secular.”
The conference includes the
panels: Empire; Then and Now,
Within and Beyond the NationState, Empowering the Disempowered, Forging Knowledge and
Culture, and Muslims in Global
Perspective. A range of topics will
present new ways of understanding how power has been used to
control society from above, but
also how it can be harnessed to
enable change.
Dr Laura Doyle
A section of the audience at the event.
atar Airways has announced an exciting
schedule of five-star
inflight entertainment for
its passengers, on board its
flights this month, to celebrate The Oscars, which
takes place in Los Angeles on
February 22.
This year’s Oscar nominees, Gone Girl, Whiplash
and Nightcrawler will all
make their debut on board the
airline’s flights’ Oryx inflight
entertainment system, which
is updated every month to
give passengers a wide range
of the latest movies, music
and TV programmes to enjoy
during their journey.
Big Hero 6 and The
Boxtrolls, both nominated
for Best Animated Feature at
this year’s Oscars, will also
be available to keep younger
passengers entertained.
A hand-picked collection
of previous Oscar greats has
also been carefully chosen to
provide passengers with the
ultimate selection of all-time
movie classics for their enjoyment.
From all time favourites
such as One Flew Over the
Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky and
Annie Hall to The Departed,
The Artist and The King’s
Speech, there is something
for everyone to settle back
and enjoy while they experience Qatar Airways’ five-star
service on board.
world entertainment also
includes the Bollywood hit
Mary Kom starring Priyanka
Chopra. Qatar Airways will
be the first and only Middle East airline to exclusively
feature this biopic, which
tells the story of the fivetime world champion and
Asian gold medallist Indian
woman boxer.
In recognition of National
Sport Day, which takes place
in Qatar on February 10, Qatar Airways has also chosen
two shows that have a focus
on the country’s sports to
feature this month.
The Porsche GT3 Cup
Challenge that took place in
the GCC, with an emphasis
on the three race rounds in
Doha and a focus on the Qatari rally champion Nasser
al-Attiyah, is among them.
The second is a series of episodes from Kossat Tahadi
that also centre around Nasser al-Attiyah.
Oscar fare on Qatar Airways.
RBI holds rates
steady, boosts
bank liquidity
BP cuts spend
as sliding oil
hurts profits
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Rabia II 15, 1436 AH
Doha Bank introduces
debit card acceptance
for mobile commerce
Commercial Bank in
joint QR1bn finance deal
for key Ashghal project
ommercial Bank has successfully
concluded a financing arrangement
for QR1bn in extended financing
facilities to Joannou & Parakskevaides
(Overseas) for the award of the construction project of the West Corridor, for Public Works Authority (Ashghal).
The contract was awarded to the joint
venture - Joannou & Parakskevaides
(Overseas) (75%) and J&P Avax (25%), valued at $458mn (QR1.7bn) with an estimated date of completion in 2016.
The awarded project is part of the EastWest Corridor Expressway, which is connecting the Industrial Area to the Hamad
International Airport. This project comprises a 10.5km long section starting from
west of the future Inner Orbital and extends to the west of the proposed Barwa
City Access. The main road consists of
10-lanes section (five lanes in each direction) and four major interchanges.
Commercial Bank led the club deal
along with one of the major regional banks
for facilitating finance in excess of QR1bn.
The financing facility was shared equally
between the two joint lead mandate arrangers with Commercial Bank retaining
the security and facility agent.
Commercial Bank CEO Abdulla Saleh
al-Raisi said: “Commercial Bank is
proud to finance large-scale infrastructure projects in Qatar such as the West
Expressway. These projects are essential
for accelerating growth of the private
sector ahead of the 2022 World Cup and
addressing Qatar’s long-term infrastructure needs resulting from a rapidly rising
“As one of the leading Qatari banks in
wholesale banking, Commercial Bank is
playing a key role in the realisation of the
National Vision 2030 by supporting Qatari
and international construction companies
with project finance”.
Aamal posts 17% jump in
2014 profit to QR600.2mn
Aamal Company has reported a 17%
jump in net profit to QR600.2mn in
2014, mainly contributed by its industrial
manufacturing, property and trading
and distribution businesses.
Given the outstanding performance of
the company, the board has recommended a 10% cash dividend and 5% bonus
shares, which will have to be approved
by the general assembly scheduled to be
held on March 16, 2015.
Net underlying profit margins stood at
15.4% in 2014 compared to 11.7% in the
previous year.
Its industrial manufacturing division
saw more than doubling of profit to
QR51.7mn; trading and distribution earnings grew 33% to QR114.9mn and fair
value gain on investment properties by
3% to QR251.7mn.
“Today’s results extend Aamal’s proud
and long-established track record
of profit growth and value creation
underpinned by a clear focus on efficient
capital allocations and returns,” Aamal
chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim alThani said.
This very strong set of results bears witness to the company’s ability to seize the
opportunities that are presenting themselves across the economic spectrum
in Qatar, continuing its long-established
track record of financial and operating
performance that is clearly focused on
both returns and cost control, aligned
with a prudent approach to risk, according to him.
The improvement in net profit of the
industrial manufacturing was on account
of acceleration in the infrastructure upgrade drive in Qatar, translating into an
increase in demand for various products
offered by this division.
The major contributors to the growth
in trading and distribution’s profitability
have been due to Aamal Medical and to
a lesser degree, Ebn Sina Medical, due to
increased demand from both the private
and public medical sectors, underpinned
by the significant rise in government
spending to develop the medical sector
in Qatar.
The property division was positively impacted by the completion of renovations
to three buildings owned by Aamal Real
Estate, comprising 30 apartments, which
have now all subsequently been rented
out; and the annual rental increases for
properties owned by the company.
The major factor behind the growth in
managed services’ earnings is a greater
focus on cost control, along with the
curtailment of several low margin contracts that is also behind the 25.6% drop
in revenues.
Total revenue of the parent company
grew less than 1% to QR2.14bn with trading and distribution business witnessing
a 24% expansion to QR728.8mn and
property by 10% to QR288.8mn; even as
that of industrial manufacturing fell 10%
to QR1.13bn and managed services by
26% to QR64.2mn.
“In addition to growth by organic means,
we are open to growth by establishing
joint ventures too, as we always have
been, but only if they meet our strict
investment criteria such that value will
be created for all our stakeholders,”
according to Tarek M El Sayed, managing
director of Aamal.
Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas) was
established in 1961 in Guernsey, Channel
Islands and has progressed to become one
of the region’s leading construction enterprise with activities in Europe, the Middle
East, Asia and Africa. The company’s activities cover the entire spectrum of construction business, including, roads and
infrastructure, airports and buildings, and
project support services for the energy and
industrial sector. In addition, the Company also provides contracting services
for electrical and mechanical projects and
advisory services for project finance transactions.
Commercial Bank headquarters at West Bay. Commercial Bank
led the club deal along with one of the major regional banks for
facilitating finance in excess of QR1bn.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Qatar Cinema
2014 profit
rises 8% to
Qatar, US chambers seek closer ties
Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani received yesterday a delegation from the Council of American Chambers of Commerce. Theresa Backus, executive director at
American Chamber of Commerce-Qatar; QC vice-chairman Mohamed Ahmed bin Tuwar and Remy Rowhani, QC director-general, were also present. The meeting dealt with bilateral trade and economic
relationships between the US and Qatar and the ways to enhance co-operation between Qatari and American business communities. Sheikh Khalifa pointed out that it is very important to exchange trade
delegations between the two countries to establish effective partnership that would accordingly benefit the two countries. Eventually, both parties agreed that a memorandum of understanding and
co-operation should be signed between them soon.
Gulf oil export losses to hit
$300bn in 2015, says IMF
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
il export losses in 2015
are expected to reach
$300bn or 21 percentage
points of gross domestic product
(GDP) in the Gulf, leading to a
fiscal deficit, while the proposed
hike in the US rates is likely to
tighten financial conditions
in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation
Council), according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
As a result, current account
surpluses are projected to decline this year to 1.6% of GDP
(gross domestic product) in
the GCC, said the IMF article
‘Learning to Live with Cheaper
Oil amid Weaker Demand’.
Lower oil prices have weakened the external and fiscal balances of oil exporters, including members of the GCC. Large
buffers and available financing
should allow most oil exporters
to avoid sharp cuts in government spending, limiting the impact on near-term growth and
financial stability.
Oil exporters should prudently treat the oil price decline
as largely permanent and adjust
their medium-term fiscal consolidation plans so as to prevent
major erosion of their buffers
and to ensure intergenerational
equity, the IMF said.
Most oil exporters need oil
prices to be considerably above
the $57 projected for 2015 to
cover government spending,
which has increased in recent
years in response to rising social
pressures and infrastructure
development goals, it said, adding as a result, the oil price decline is expected to significantly
erode fiscal positions across the
The GCC’s fiscal surplus
(4.6% of GDP in 2014) is now
projected to turn into a deficit of
6.3% of GDP in 2015. Qatar, the
UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and
Oman are expected to witness
fiscal deficit of 1.5%, 3.7% 10.1%,
12.1% and 16.4% of GDP respectively this year, the IMF said.
The report said global interest
rate and exchange rate developments, which are largely driven
by the expected normalisation
of the US monetary policy, also
have a bearing on the regional
outlook, albeit to a lesser ex-
tent than declines in commodity
prices and external demand.
“The expected increase in
the US interest rates is likely to
tighten financial conditions,
particularly in the GCC because
of their exchange rate pegs, and
to dampen the growth of private
credit,” it said, adding these interest rate spillovers are likely
to occur with a delay because of
slow pass-through.
So far, long-term yields in the
MENAP (Middle East North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan)
oil importers and the GCC have
not been affected much by concerns about tightening US monetary policy, it found.
Stressing that the impact of
lower oil prices on oil exporters’ banking systems is likely to
be muted in the near term, but
downside risks are likely to increase over time; the report said
GCC banking systems will be affected by the decline in oil prices, given the strong correlation
between non-oil growth and
government spending, but they
should remain resilient owing
to their high capital buffers, low
nonperforming loans and generally high liquidity.
Storage containers, operated by Vopak Horizon Fujairah Ltd, are seen at Fujairah port in Fujairah, UAE
(file). The GCC’s fiscal surplus (4.6% of GDP in 2014) is now projected to turn into a deficit of 6.3% of
GDP in 2015.
Higher rental earnings and capital gains helped Qatar Cinema
and Film Distribution Company
report an 8% gain in net profit
to QR12.33mn in 2014.
The company, which otherwise
reported slippages in operating
income, however declared a
total 20% dividend (10% cash
and 10% bonus issue), which
will have to be approved by
shareholders at the annual
general assembly.
The company’s gross loss
widened 32% to QR1.57mn with
costs remaining higher than
income. Operating income fell
14% to QR12.94mn and direct
costs, which also shrank 11%,
stood higher at QR14.51mn.
General and administrative
expenditure rose 16% to
QR5.91mn, according to its
financial statement filed with
the Qatar Stock Exchange.
Dividend income surged 8%
to QR2.58mn, gain on sale
of investments by 29% to
QR5.21mn, rental income by
3% to QR16.84mn and net
other income by less than 1% to
Finance costs were brought
down by 32% to QR0.93mn.
Total assets were valued at
QR178.08mn comprising
current assets of QR26.57mn
and non-current assets of
Total shareholders’ equity stood
at QR143.82mn on a capital base
of QR57.1mn and earnings-pershare was QR2.16 at the end of
December 31, 2014.
Abu Dhabi’s surging
home rents to grow at
‘slower pace’ in 2015
Abu Dhabi residential rents,
which surged after the government removed a cap on rate
increases in 2013, will climb at
a “slower pace” this year, global
commercial real estate firm
CBRE Group Inc said, according
to Bloomberg.
Home rents in the UAE’s capital
rose 3% in the fourth quarter
compared to the previous three
months, and were 17% higher
than the same period in 2013,
CBRE said in an e-mailed report
The UAE, holder of about
6% of the world’s oil supply,
built thousands of homes,
offices and hotels as it aimed
to transform itself into a tourist destination. In November
2013, Abu Dhabi removed
a cap that barred landlords
from increasing rents by more
than 5%. A surge in rents
followed as landlords raised
prices and tenants were
forced to move.
“Despite rising housing stock,
the Abu Dhabi residential
market continues to outperform
most other property assets,”
said Matthew Green, head of
UAE research and consultancy
at CBRE.
Iran sweetens crude deals to counter sanctions, price plunge
ran is sweetening the terms it offers on oil development contracts
to draw the interest of foreign investors deterred by sanctions and low
crude prices, as its pragmatic president
seeks to deliver on his promise of economic recovery.
Tehran is engaged in talks with world
powers about its disputed nuclear programme as it tries to strike a final deal to
lift the sanctions that have halved its oil
exports to just over 1mn bpd since 2012
and hammered its economy.
To prepare for any agreement, it
has already circulated new draft oil
contracts to foreign firms to attract
business once the restrictions end,
Iranian oil officials and Western
diplomatic sources said. Such deals
would involve helping Iran revive
ageing fields and develop new ones,
they added.
But there is no certainty about the
outcome of the nuclear negotiations.
The contracts offer far more favourable
terms than those offered pre-sanctions
as many companies would be hesitant
to sign even a preliminary deal which
US and European governments could
regard as jumping the gun.
Companies may also require greater
persuasion to invest in Iranian fields
due to low crude prices, which have
more than halved since June, and the
turbulent relationship Iran has had with
foreign firms in the past, especially after
the 1979 revolution.
“The new contract is more competitive than other oil producers. It provides higher potential profits and lower
investment risks,” said a senior Iranian
oil ministry official who declined to be
named due to the sensitivity of the matter. The contract offered a favourable
rate of return and joint venture options
with local Iranian firms, he added.
The new contracts will offer longterm durations of up to 25 years, oil officials say.
A spokesman for Iran’s oil ministry
declined to comment on the nature of
the contracts.
Previously, foreign investors have
only been involved in exploration and
development of oil fields. They operated under buy-back contracts, whereby
they were paid a fixed rate of return and
did not own the assets and were contractors without rights to the fields.
Analysts and industry sources said
companies had failed to cover their
costs under this mechanism, which
offered no long-term guarantees of income.
The situation has changed, however.
President Hassan Rouhani, who won
power in 2013 with pledges to improve
the economy, is seeking to end a malaise that has seen prices of food, water
and electricity rise beyond the reach of
many Iranians as high unemployment
and low wages take their toll.
The new oil contracts will allow investors to be involved in production,
A general view of the South Pars gas field in the city of Kangan near the southern
Iranian port of Assalouyeh. The new contracts will offer long-term durations of up
to 25 years, Iran oil officials say.
giving them far greater control and
certainty over long-term revenue in a
country where foreign ownership of oil
resources is banned.
“The Iranian petroleum contracts are
more relaxed to encourage major investors ... For example in previous contracts, the commerciality was decided
by an Iranian committee but under the
new contracts it has been changed in a
way to accommodate the foreign party,”
the oil ministry official said.
Another oil ministry official said:
“The major incentive for an international oil company (IOC) is the possibility to book the reserves, something
that was not possible in the past ... One
of the terms (on offer) is the long-term
joint venture between the IOC and the
Iranian operator.”
“The investors will have no rights
over the reserves but ... after exploration is completed, they can report output they receive as payment,” the official added.
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh
has met with Western oil executives at
recent Opec meetings in Vienna, including Italy’s Eni, Royal Dutch Shell
and Austrian oil and gas group OMV.
Iranian sources declined to identify
which companies had seen the draft oil
contracts. There has been oil industry
speculation that Shell and ConocoPhillips could be among parties to have been
Shell declined to comment. ConocoPhillips said it acted in full compliance with US law and was “not engaged
in business dealings with Iran”.
One Western diplomatic source said
the interest in oil dialogue with foreign
companies was “one-sided and mostly
coming from Iran’s side”.
“Iran is looking a lot less interesting and desirable from the perspective
of Western oil companies. There’s too
much oil on the market so the last thing
they want is for Iran to come back online,” the source said.
Another Western diplomatic source
said: “There are still great doubts on
profitability at the moment given the
lack of direct access to fields in Iran. It
is unlikely that any oil company - in the
current uncertain environment - would
sign even an open contract. It is very
much wait and see.”
The new contracts, which include
those in the upstream - exploration and
development - sectors are expected to
attract more than $40bn in foreign investment, Iranian media have recently
quoted officials as saying.
Iran has postponed a planned oil
conference in London, which was due to
have taken place in February to reveal its
new contracts, until November. An Iranian official said “the US urged Tehran
to hold off” until a final nuclear deal was
Washington has reiterated it continues to enforce sanctions.
Iran and six world powers are trying
to meet a self-imposed deadline of the
end of June to resolve the nuclear standoff over Iran’s nuclear work, which the
West fears is aimed at developing a
weapons capability - a charge Iran denies, saying it is for peaceful, civilian
When contacted, a British Foreign
Office spokesman said the government
did not support the London oil conference.
“It would be premature in the absence of a comprehensive nuclear deal,”
the spokesman said, adding that encouraging trade with Iran “would send
the wrong signal”.
“The UK government does not encourage trade with Iran. Until we have
a nuclear agreement that fully restores
international confidence in the nature
of Iran’s nuclear activity it will be necessary to maintain consistent pressure
on Iran through sanctions,” he said.
Analysts say Iran is still not open for
Mehdi Varzi, a former official at the
state-run National Iranian Oil Co, said
discussions with foreign oil companies
had been “on and off for some time”,
adding that Iran had to offer more attractive incentives to get the ball rolling.
“With the current situation, even if
sanctions are lifted, I cannot see many
companies going to Iran,” said Varzi,
who now runs an energy consultancy in
Britain, adding that Iran’s energy sector
would be in deep trouble if market conditions deteriorated further. “If things
get worse, the survival of the Iranian oil
and gas industry is at stake.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Dubai Airport set for record spend spree
ubai, fresh from capturing
the title of busiest international airport from London
Heathrow, has set its sights on becoming the world’s top hub by retail
sales this year as a flood of Chinese
passengers add to a shopping spree.
Spending at Dubai International Airport should reach $2.1bn in
2015, up from $1.9bn last year, when
80 days of runway repairs cut receipts by about $50mn, said Colm
McLoughlin, vice chairman of Dubai
Duty Free, which runs 26,000sq m
(280,000sq ft) of retail space at the
Dubai is vying for the top spot
with South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, which serves
the Seoul conurbation. The Asian
base had sales of 2.09tn won last
year, equivalent to $1.91bn at current exchange rates. The two hubs
have been trading positions in recent years, with Dubai ranked first in
2013, according to duty free analyst
Generation Research.
“There are more and more Chinese
travelling all the time,” McLoughlin said an interview. “Although one
sector might drop, it’s replaced by
something else. We expect to be No
1 again.”
Chinese passengers who make up
about 5% of Dubai’s total throughput
contributed 13% of its duty free revenue in 2014, countering a decline in
Russian spending after the weakening of the rouble, McLoughlin said.
Dubai International’s overall sales
last year were led by 3.2mn bottles
of perfume that generated revenue
equal to $314mn or 17% of the total,
followed by 17mn units of beer, wine
and liquor on $286mn, 3.4 metric tons of gold items worth almost
$164mn, and $160mn of tobacco
products including 4.2mn cartons of
Electronics purchases included
over 133,000 cameras, about 20,000
Apple Inc iPads and more than
140,000 mobile phones.
Dubai International’s customer
count increased 6.1% last year to
70.5mn, making it the top hub worldwide for cross-border passengers, a
title held by Heathrow for decades.
Owner Dubai Airports predicts the
facility will overtake the total tally at
its London rival, 73.4mn in 2014, this
year to become No 1 in the Europe,
Africa and Middle East region.
In terms of retail revenue, six of the
world’s top 10 airports were located in
Asia in 2013, the most recent year for
which Generation Research has published rankings, with Singapore Changi
in third spot after Dubai International
and Incheon. Three others were in Europe, led by Heathrow at No 4.
The passenger count - and with
it retail receipts - is surging as local carrier Emirates builds Dubai
into a transit hub for travel between
Europe, the eastern US, Asia, Africa
and the Middle East with a mammoth collection of wide-body jets
that includes the largest fleet of Airbus Group NV A380s.
To help boost its appeal to Chinese
shoppers, Dubai Duty Free has hired
448 Mandarin speaks and installed
signs in the language, and accepts
Yuan and China Union paycards.
Business from African travellers
is also increasing as the number of
flights to the continent also gains,
with smartphones being the most
popular products, McLoughlin said.
Emirates plans to add at least 10 new
routes there by 2025.
Passengers from India and Pakistan are also “very important” and
the retailer is monitoring relevant
regulations all the time, McLoughlin
said, with the Indian government’s
changes to duty on gold depressing
Dubai Duty Free’s sales of the metal
by one-sixth last year.
This year, Dubai Duty Free is targeting sales of $48 per head, up from
$47 in 2014, and aims to lift the proportion of departing passengers who
buy to 50% from 49%.
The opening of Dubai International’s Concourse D, slated for May
according to McLoughlin, is set to
expand passenger capacity to 90mn
and will feature 7,000 square metres of retail space, lifting the total to
33,000 square metres.
Pakistan eyes Qatar LNG as
terminal nears startup date
akistan will focus on importing Qatari liquefied natural gas for its first terminal,
which will be commissioned in the
first week of March.
The government is finalising a
contract with Qatar, the world’s
biggest producer of the superchilled fuel, for 1mn to 2mn metric tonnes a year, Sheikh Imran ul
Haque, chief executive officer of
operator Elengy Terminal Pakistan
Ltd, said on Monday. It cancelled
expressions of interest from suppliers including BP and Gunvor Group
Ltd for short-term deals that would
have complemented the Qatari volumes, he said by telephone from
Karachi, the nation’s biggest city.
“They decided to concentrate on
Qatari volumes initially, and then
decide how to proceed,” Haque said.
Pakistan is struggling to meet gas
demand that is outpacing domestic production and has to turn to
LNG imports and international gas
pipelines, the International Energy
Agency said in its medium-term
natural gas outlook in June. The
nation’s floating terminal will have
a capacity of 3mn tonnes a year,
Haque said.
The country plans to get longterm supply of 1mn to 1.5mn tonnes
of LNG, Zahid Muzaffar, an adviser
to Pakistan’s petroleum ministry, said
Pakistan is struggling to meet gas demand that is outpacing domestic production and has to turn to
LNG imports and international gas pipelines, the International Energy Agency said in its medium
term natural gas outlook in June.
by phone from Islamabad. He declined to comment on a specific deal.
“It is all subject to what price we
get,” Muzaffar said. “If we get a good
price, we can increase the quantity.”
A floating storage and regasification unit will arrive in the first
week of March, along with a commissioning cargo, which is likely to
be supplied by Qatar, Haque said.
Construction work at the terminal
has been completed, he said.
Qatar Liquefied Gas Co and Ras
Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co, the
nation’s state-owned LNG producers, declined to comment on supplies to Pakistan when contacted by
Bloomberg by e-mail and phone.
BP, Shell, Gunvor were among
companies putting expressions of
interest to the Pakistani government for short-term contracts to
supply the terminal, Haque said in
Excelerate Energy, the largest
operator of floating storage and regasification units, will provide the
vessel, Haque said in a presentation
at the CWC LNG conference in Paris
in November.
Industries Qatar
Q1 shutdowns to
fall from year ago
ndustries Qatar , the Gulf’s second-largest petrochemicals firm, plans several shutdowns of its plants in the
first quarter of this year, it said yesterday.
The company will close its Qatar plants for a total of 158
days in the first three months of the year, compared to 292
days of closures in the same period of 2014.
The shutdown schedule is as follows, with comparisons
from the first quarter of 2014 in parentheses:
Ethylene: 2 days (72 days)
Low Density Polyethylene: 41 days (87 days)
Linear Low Density Polyethyelen: 42 days (13 days)
Methanol: 0 days (18 days)
Methyl tertiary-butyl ether: 0 days (9 days)
Ammonia: 26 days (46 days)
Urea: 24 days (36 days)
Steel (DR, EF/CC, RM): 23 days (11 days)
IQ said actual downtime may vary from the schedule
published yesterday.
Also in the first quarter, Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co said it would shut its newest facilities for scheduled
maintenance, the Ras Laffan Olefins Co (RLOC) and QChem II.
The ethylene unit will stop production for 40 days; high
density polyethylene for 40 days; normal alpha olefins for
40 days; pygas, propane, butane and others for 40 days;
caustic soda for 18 days; ethylene dichloride for 18 days; and
vinyl chloride monomer for 45 days.
South Hook plans for new UK power plant on hold
Plans to build a combined
heat and power (CHP) plant
at the UK’s South Hook
liquefied natural gas import
terminal in Wales have been
put on hold due to “current
market conditions”, South
Hook CHP Limited has said.
The original plan to build a
500 megawatt (MW) plant
was announced in 2012 by
project partners Qatar’s QPI
Global Ventures Limited,
ExxonMobil Power Limited
and Total’s subsidiary Elf
Petroleum UK Limited.
Airline passengers move through the stores inside terminal 3 at concourse A, the new
A380 terminal at Dubai International Airport. Spending at Dubai International Airport
should reach $2.1bn in 2015, up from $1.9bn last year, said Colm McLoughlin, vice chairman
of Dubai Duty Free, which runs 26,000sq m (280,000sq ft) of retail space at the hub.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Myanmar-China oil pipeline opens, reduces shipping time
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
Myanmar finally opened a new crude
oil pipeline last weekend linking its
western coast with China’s southern
province of Yunnan, cutting shipping
time for Middle Eastern and African
oil to China by more than a third. It
is designed to transmit a capacity of
22mn tonnes of oil per year over 771
kilometres to China.
The pipeline – which runs parallel to a
natural gas pipeline that commenced
operations in October 2013 and
since transported around four billion
cubic meters of gas, including from
Qatar – will cut short the usual tanker
route from the Arabian Gulf to China
across the Indian Ocean through the
busy Strait of Malacca and across the
disputed waters of the South China
Sea. Instead, oil tankers – after they
have sailed around the southern tips
of India and Sri Lanka – will just cross
the Gulf of Bengal and discharge
their freight at a brand-new deepsea port with 12 huge storage tanks
off the coast of Kyaukpyu district in
Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the starting
point of the pipeline.
Gulf banks
top players
in aviation
in region
Total construction costs for the two
pipelines and the port facility were
$2.45bn, fully financed by China, and
the works were carried out by a joint
venture between China National
Petroleum Corp and state-owned
Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.
In addition, there is a refinery and
a petrochemical complex under
construction on the Chinese side in
Yunnan’s capital Kunming by oil giant
PetroChina where the oil is going to be
The huge investment shows the
Chinese government’s dedication to
create energy security for the country
by diversifying its sources of crude
supply and receiving fossil fuels from
countries to its west much more
directly and efficiently, especially
since demand for crude oil in China is
heading towards new heights due to
both growing domestic demand and
the current opportunity to stockpile
crude cheaply as long as the oil price
remains at multi-year lows.
China imported 308.36mn tonnes
of crude oil in 2014, a 9.5% year-onyear increase and a new record high.
According to forecasts by China
National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the
nation’s biggest oil and gas company,
net crude imports will climb another
5.4% to 325mn tonnes in 2015 and
the share of imports needed to meet
domestic demand will surpass 60%
this year for the first time ever.
For Myanmar, the pipeline project is
expected to create a veritable source
of income, and the government is
anticipated to make $54bn from fees
and royalties over a period of 30
years. However, the project has come
under fire from activists in the past
on the grounds of environmental
concerns, labour issues, alleged
forced village relocations and claims
over inadequate compensation for
lost land. Farmers were alleging
a “substandard quality” in which
the pipelines have been built and
said that they would be leaking
and contaminating their land. The
pipeline also crosses through two
unstable regions in Myanmar, Muslimdominated Rakhine State and the
eastern Shan State partly controlled
by several ethnic armies. It helped a
bit that China’s CNPC put about $25mn
into local education and development
projects to ease tensions in the
region. On the Chinese side, street
protests against the construction of
the pipeline-related petrochemical
complex in Kunming were held, but to
no avail.
Turkish central bank plans
policy meet in three weeks
ash-rich Gulf banks are
becoming bigger players in
the region’s aviation boom,
helping carriers like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways to
fund their fleet expansion.
Figures from European planemaker Airbus show that 47% of
its aircraft deals in the Middle East
in the first 11 months of last year
were funded by local banks, up
from 17% for 2013 as a whole.
Flush with huge cash deposits
estimated by Reuters at $1.15tn,
Gulf banks have the firepower to
be increasingly competitive in
aviation lending markets. It gives
the region’s carriers access to
cheap capital while posing a threat
to the dominance of global banks
and aircraft lessors which have
thrived on the accelerated growth
of the Gulf aviation industry.
Long-standing critics of the
Gulf’s state-owned carriers, including some North American and
European legacy airlines, may feel
such financing from local lenders
– many of whom are also partly
or fully state-owned – offers an
unfair advantage. But Gulf lenders and airlines alike say deals are
done only on a commercial basis.
Opportunities for further funding are huge; Emirates has about
$107.5bn worth of aircraft on order from Boeing and Airbus over
the coming few years. The order
books for Qatar and Etihad are
about $57.7bn and $28.59bn respectively at list price.
“Liquidity was good (in 2014),
the local and regional banks participated very strongly, certainly
as far as airlines from region were
concerned,” Ricky Thirion, group
treasurer of Etihad, said at a conference in Dublin.
“But they also spread their
wings and started offering transactions outside our region, which
is good to see,” National Bank of
Abu Dhabi (NBAD), for example, says it is exploring aviation
deals with Asia Pacific rim airlines
across multiple financing structures. “We see indeed that banks
in the Middle East are playing an
increasingly important role in
aircraft financing, in line with the
region’s growing influence in air
traffic worldwide,” said Yann Ballet, head of project and structured
finance at Airbus.
Airlines traditionally relied
more on leasing firms, export
credit agencies, international
banks and capital markets or just
cash for their financing needs. But
as their order books have swollen,
carriers have widened their sources of financing in order to secure
competitive rates and diversify
risks. Dubai’s flag carrier Emirates has been tapping US capital
markets through equipment trust
certificates and received a guarantee from the French export credit
agency for its floating-rate capital
market bond. However, it recently
began drawing more funding from
local banks.
urkey’s central bank
said yesterday it would
next meet on monetary
policy in three weeks, drawing
thinly-veiled criticism from the
entourage of President Tayyip
Erdogan, who had pressed for
a growth-boosting interest rate
cut before then.
Amid a recent flurry of interest rate cuts in major emerging
economies, central bank governor Erdem Basci said last week
the bank might hold an interim
policy meeting this week if annual inflation fell more than 1
percentage point in January.
But yesterday’s reading came
in just shy of that at 7.24%,
down from 8.17% in December.
The central bank, which cut
its main interest rate by 50 basis
points last month in response
to a slowing economy and eas-
Basci: Drawing thinly-veiled criticism.
ing inflation, said following the
data that indicators still pointed
to inflation trending lower and
it would next assess the policy
outlook at its scheduled meeting on February 24.
Economy Minister Nihat
Zeybekci said the bank should
have held an interim meeting to
cut rates, and urged future reductions.
In another apparently critical reaction, Erdogan aide Yigit
Bulut wrote on Twitter that
interest rate decisions should
not be solely based on domestic
price dynamics.
Erdogan, a long-time advocate of loose monetary policy,
has repeatedly criticised the
central bank for not cutting
rates more sharply and quickly,
and is looking to boost economic growth ahead of national
elections in June.
Falling growth rates along
with sinking oil prices have
prompted rate cuts in several
other emerging economies, notably Russia, which unexpectedly cut borrowing costs last
week, and India, which eased in
Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign
Strategy, said Turkey’s central
bank was likely to remain under
significant political pressure
to lower rates, but justifying
easing was very difficult with
inflation still way above a 5%
“We have been taking the
view for some time that Basci’s
job is becoming untenable. Even
taking into account that he is an
Erdogan loyalist, many central
bank governors would have resigned for less by now,” he said.
Turkey’s lira, which dropped
to a record low of 2.4483 against
the dollar last Friday on expectations of a rate cut, firmed to
2.4070 by 1159 GMT compared
with 2.4330 before the inflation
NBAD starts market-making on ADX
Abu Dhabi
ational Bank of Abu Dhabi
(NBAD) officially began marketmaking – quoting buying and
selling prices – on the Abu Dhabi stock
exchange (ADX) yesterday, aiming to
boost trading volumes.
The bank, the largest lender by assets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE),
also plans to start market-making on
the Dubai Financial Market and Nasdaq
Dubai exchanges during the first half of
2015, according to the head of the practice at NBAD. A spokesman for the Dubai
bourses couldn’t immediately be reached
for comment. Tuesday’s move, which follows a three-week testing period, comes
at a time when stock markets in the UAE
and the Gulf generally are grappling with
volatile trading patterns as a drop in oil
prices weighs on the confidence of a trader base dominated by private individuals.
NBAD originally secured the market
maker’s licence from the regulator in
April 2014, a first for the Gulf region, but
hadn’t started operations officially until
Tuesday, ADX head Rashed al-Baloushi
said. “It is a new business, it will lead to
a radical change in the market. We expect
to see more liquidity, more trading,” Baloushi told reporters at a media event.
The exchange plans to appoint other
banks and brokerages as market makers,
he added without elaborating.
A market maker is a bank or brokerage
that stands ready at any time of the trad-
ing day with a firm ‘ask’ and ‘bid’ price,
important at a time when there is limited
or volatile trading.
NBAD Market Maker, as the unit is
called, has a capital of 30mn dirhams
($8.1mn). “As market maker, we have to
also ensure there’s less volatility in the
market. We can’t pull away from the market if it goes up or down, we have to remain committed,” said Galen Moore, executive director of Middle East and North
Africa Equities Market Making at NBAD.
During the three-week test phase, the
market maker contributed an average of
between 10 and 15% of total volumes on
the ADX, Moore said.
Currently, a dozen stocks out of 96
companies make up about 80% of the
volumes on the ADX—which traded on
average 210.6mn shares daily over the
past two years, according to Thomson
Reuters data. The idea of the market
maker is to expand that and broaden the
market, Moore said, adding it expected
to move towards 30 shares contributing
80% of trading over time.
Strong oil, Q4 earnings boost Gulf markets
An investor follows the stock market activity at the
Dubai Financial Market. Dubai’s index jumped 2.5%
in a broad rally yesterday.
allying oil prices and positive
corporate news boosted Gulf
equity markets yesterday, although consumer stocks in Saudi
Arabia pulled back after gaining
strongly earlier in the week.
Brent crude traded above $56,
having gained more than 15% since
Thursday after data showed the
number of US drilling rigs had fallen
The main Saudi stock index edged
up 0.2% as leading petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries
climbed 1.1% and its affiliate Saudi
Kayan Petrochemical Co jumped
“The profitability of the MENA
petrochemical producers which
benefit from advantageous feedstock pricing will continue to be
highly correlated to oil prices,” NBK
Capital wrote in a report.
The brokerage said Kayan was
most sensitive to a potential increase
in oil prices: an average price of $75
per barrel would lift its earnings per
share by a quarter compared with a
$65-per-barrel scenario.
Meanwhile, consumer stocks such
as Jarir Marketing and United Electronics, down 2.6% and 1.1% respectively, pulled back after surging
in the previous two sessions.
The sector had risen after the King
Salman ordered a big cash handout to Saudi state employees and
some large companies also said they
would pay out hundreds of millions
of dollars in bonuses to mark Salman’s accession. Much of the money
is expected to be spent on consumer
A purchasing managers’ survey
released yesterday showed the Saudi
non-oil sector still growing strongly
in January, with no significant impact from last year’s plunge in oil
Dubai’s index jumped 2.5% in a
broad rally. Builder Arabtec surged
3.7% after announcing it had won
contracts worth 375mn dirhams
($102mn) from developer Emaar
Properties. Shares in Emaar surged
Rival developer DAMAC soared its
daily 15% limit, extending gains after
posting a 46% surge in 2014 profit
on Monday. The stock, which had
previously traded only in London
and cross-listed in Dubai on January
12, had plunged 36% last month on
the emirate’s bourse.
Bourse operator Dubai Financial
Market (DFM) jumped 2.4%. Its
fourth-quarter net profit increased
31% to 138.2mn dirhams, Reuters
calculated using company figures.
Global Investment House had forecast DFM would make a quarterly
profit of 120mn dirhams.
Abu Dhabi’s index added 1.4%.
Dana Gas surged 4.3% ahead of a
board meeting on Wednesday that
will review its financial results.
The January PMI for the United
Arab Emirates showed private sector
growth actually accelerating despite
low oil prices.
Qatar’s bourse rose 1.3% as Gulf
International Services surged 5.8%
after its annual profit more than
doubled and it proposed a 5.5 riyals
dividend for 2014, up from 1.6 riyals
a year earlier. Analysts had forecast
the 2014 dividend at 3.35 riyals.
In Egypt, the economic news was
not as good; the January PMI showed
the non-oil private sector shrank for
the first time since last July as both
output and new orders fell slightly.
But Egypt’s bourse rose 1.3% yesterday to 9,954 points, a fresh 6-1/2year high, ahead of earnings reports
which companies will begin publishing next week.
Lower oil prices have eased the
pressure on the country’s fiscal and
trade deficits, allowing the central
bank to begin a gradual depreciation
of the pound which may eliminate
the black market and improve the
economy’s competitiveness.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
RBI holds rates steady,
boosts banks’ liquidity
India’s central bank keeps repo
rate steady at 7.75%; lowers banks
SLR to 21.5% from 22%; markets
expect more rate cuts after budget;
government to present budget on
February 28
ndia’s central bank held interest
rates steady yesterday, while boosting banks’ liquidity in a bid to persuade them to lower lending rates after
they failed to pass on the benefits of the
last official rate cut three weeks ago.
The Reserve Bank of India kept its
policy repo rate unchanged at 7.75%, as
expected by analysts, leaving its next
reduction probably until after the government presents its annual budget at
the end of this month.
“Given that there have been no substantial new developments on the
disinflationary process or on the fiscal outlook since January 15, it is appropriate for the Reserve Bank to await
them and maintain the current interest
stance,” the central bank said in a statement.
Instead, to prod banks to lend more
and lower their lending rates, the RBI
cut the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR)
– the minimum portion of net deposits that banks must hold in government
bonds, cash or gold – by 50 basis points
to 21.5% from February 7.
Only three of India’s 45 commercial
banks cut base lending rates in the wake
of the RBI’s reduction in the repo rate
by 25 basis points on January15, hurting
the government’s drive to lift business
Bank profits have been poor, but RBI
The Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan speaks during a news conference after the bi-monthly monetary policy
review in Mumbai yesterday. India’s central bank held interest rates steady at 7.75%.
Governor Raghuram Rajan said that
given the weak credit growth, banks
would have to start lending again at
some point. “To get that lending they
will have to be more competitive, which
means they will have to cut base rate.
I am hopeful it is a matter of time before banks judge that they should pass
it on,” Rajan told a news conference.
“Many have been relatively quick to cut
their deposit rates, but not so quick to
cut their lending rates, I presume some
are hoping they can get the spread for a
little more time to repair banks’ balance
While RBI officials suspect banks are
trying to protect profit margins, commercial bankers complain that liquidity
conditions have been too tight for them
to lower lending rates.
Encouraged by falling world oil prices
and inflation slowing, the RBI had surprised investors last months by kicking
off a new easing cycle, to boost credit in
an economy struggling to gather momentum.
The RBI held out the prospect of
more rate cuts, but said that would depend on government efforts to reduce
India’s fiscal deficit and fix the supply
constraints that keep food and energy
prices high in the country.
Most economists polled by Reuters
expect the RBI to start reducing its repo
policy rate after the budget, due to be
unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 28, so long as it does not
disappoint in terms of reducing the fiscal deficit.
The rupee currency, bonds and share
markets all eased slightly after the RBI
announced it was leaving rates unchanged this time. Markets are pricing
in more interest rate cuts over the rest of
the year given consumer prices rose 5%
in December, well within the RBI target
of 6% by January 2016.
“We believe the RBI can come up
with one more 25 basis points rate cut
any time between mid-March and next
policy date of April 7,” said Shakti Satapathy, a fixed income strategist for AK
Capital in Mumbai.
The RBI described the domestic
economy as “subdued”, regardless of
the government revision of gross domestic product data, using a new formula which showed the economy grew
6.9% in 2013/14, instead of 4.7%.
The RBI added it was too soon to incorporate the new calculation of GDP,
but using the old base it estimated
growth at 5.5% in the year ending in
March, and forecast growth of 6.5%
in 2015/16. Economists have estimated that India needs sustained annual
growth of 8% rate to create enough jobs
for the millions of young Indians joining the workforce each year.
to expand
range of
Samsung is to launch a range
of smart refrigerators, air
conditioners and washing
machines as it seeks to
expand its business in
Internet-connected homes, a
top executive said yesterday.
The South Korean tech giant
is seeking to plough more
resources into the so-called
Internet of Things (IoT) as the
market for smartphones – one
of its core product categories
– becomes increasingly
The new appliances will
work on Samsung’s Tizen
operating system, which the
company has touted as a
platform not just for phones
but for a range of connected
home appliances that can
communicate with one
“We are preparing
launches of Tizen-powered
TVs, refrigerators, air
conditioners and other
premium-priced home
appliances this year,” BK
Yoon, head of Samsung’s
consumer electronics unit,
told reporters. The firm – the
world’s top mobile phone
maker – plans to eventually
make all its new products
Internet-connected by 2020,
he added.
“I think we have to make
preparations for the IoT
for future growth, as we
previously grew in size by
switching from... feature
phones to smartphones,”
Yoon said.
StanChart China reports $91.2bn account deficit in Q4
plans to sell
retail unit
Dow Jones
tandard Chartered is looking to sell its retail business in the
Philippines, part of a wider bid by embattled CEO Peter
Sands to cut costs and shrink the bank’s asset base, a person
with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The London-listed bank, which entered the Philippines in
1872, would continue to operate its corporate banking business in
the country to focus on top clients such as San Miguel, the nation’s biggest conglomerate, the source said.
A spokesman for Standard Chartered said the bank would “not
comment on speculation”. The source declined to be identified as
the matter is not yet public.
Standard Chartered’s assets in the Philippines total $1.72bn,
according to the country’s central bank. It currently has five
branches and over 500 employees in the Southeast Asian nation,
according to the bank’s website. Two-thirds of those employees
are in its retail business, the source said.
It was not immediately clear how much the retail business
would fetch, as no breakdown of StanChart’s retail assets in the
Philippines is available. It could be left with one branch if the sale
goes ahead, the source said.
Sands is under pressure from investors to reverse a two-year
decline in the bank’s fortunes that have seen its shares lose 46%
of their value in the last two years. Some are calling for him to be
The CEO has been shuttering businesses where the lender had
failed to achieve sustainable scale. Last month StanChart closed
the bulk of its global equities business and said it would axe 4,000
jobs in retail banking.
In December Standard Chartered sold its Hong Kong and
Shenzhen consumer finance businesses to a consortium that
included China Travel Financial Holdings, US hedge fund York
Capital Management Global Advisors and financial firm Pepper
Australia Pty.
The sale could attract bids from Philippine lenders who dominate the local banking business and further a government-backed
goal of bringing consolidation to the domestic banking sector.
Antonio Moncupa, president of Philippines’ EastWest Banking Corp, said his firm would consider a bid for StanChart’s retail
banking assets.
“We will surely consider. But we need to see the bidding process details first in making a decision,” he told Reuters yesterday.
The country’s deputy central bank governor, Nestor Espenilla
Jr, said in July smaller players in the country’s overcrowded banking market would need to grow, combine with a local player or sell
The country’s largest lender, BDO Unibank Inc, bought Citibank’s thrift bank unit in the country in late 2013.
Standard Chartered’s Philippines unit ranks as 18th biggest in
the country in terms of assets, trailing foreign banks such as Citibank which is at number 11. The top three local banks BDO Unibank, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co and Bank Of the Philippine
Islands control 43% of the country’s banking assets, according to
central bank data.
hina reported the largest deficit in its capital and financial account in more than a decade for the
last quarter of 2014, the latest evidence
showing that capital is flowing out of the
China recorded a deficit of $91.2bn in
the period under its capital and financial
account, which covers investments, the
State Administration of Foreign Exchange
said yesterday, based on preliminary estimates.
The figure is the largest quarterly deficit under its capital and financial account
since at least 1998, according to data provider Wind Information Co, though the
data are estimates and often subject to
wide revisions. It brought the capital-account deficit for the full year to a preliminary $96bn, after a revised deficit of $9bn
in the 2014 third quarter.
China has been facing capital outflows
as its economy slows and the nation’s currency weakens. The government has also
been encouraging domestic companies to
play a bigger role in the global economy by
investing overseas.
Economists have said that slower economic growth and rising labour costs are
making China a less attractive destination for some types of foreign investment,
while the weaker yuan is convincing some
exporters to hold on to foreign exchange
instead of converting it into the local
In the fourth quarter, China had a surplus of $61.1bn in the current account,
which covers trade in goods and services.
It had a surplus of $213.8bn for all of 2014,
An employee counts money at a branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Huaibei, Anhui Province. China reported the
largest deficit in its capital and financial account in more than a decade for the last quarter of 2014.
according to initial estimates, and that included a revised surplus of $72.2bn in the
third quarter of last year.
In 2013, China posted surpluses in both
its capital and current accounts, with the
capital account showing a $326.2bn sur-
plus and the current account surplus at
$182.8bn. The data are largely in line with
other data released by the government.
China’s central bank and financial institutions sold a net 118.365bn yuan ($18.91bn)
of foreign exchange in December, revers-
ing a net purchase of 2.17bn yuan in November, according to a Wall Street Journal
calculation based on central-bank data
issued last month. Foreign exchange purchases by the banking system are widely
seen as indicative of capital flows.
Beijing broadens graft probe into financial sector
Bank of Beijing Co board director Lu
Haijun is under investigation for serious
disciplinary violations, the bank said, the
latest high-ranking banker to fall under
scrutiny as China’s anti-corruption drive
turns to the finance sector.
The investigation comes after China
Minsheng Banking Corp’s president,
Mao Xiaofeng, resigned on Saturday for
personal reasons after media reports that
he was being investigated by China’s anticorruption watchdog.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned
that the problem of official graft is serious
enough to threaten the Communist Party’s
legitimacy and has vowed to go after
powerful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”.
Graft-busters have investigated business
leaders and politicians alike, including
powerful former domestic security chief
Zhou Yongkang, and Ling Jihua, once a
top aide to Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor.
Chinese media have connected the fall
of Mao with the probe into Ling without
giving specific details, except to note they
both rose through the Communist Youth
League. Ling was sacked as head of a
department which works to co-opt noncommunists in December after having
been implicated in a scandal over his son’s
death in a luxury sports car accident.
Neither Mao nor Lu could be reached for
Mao, once a rising star in China’s banking
world, had only been named to his post in
Bank of Beijing’s Lu was the former
chairman of Beijing Energy Investment
Holding Co Ltd, one of the bank’s
shareholders, according to a statement
posted on the Shanghai stock exchange
late on Monday.
The bank was operating normally, the
statement added.
The party’s graft-fighting body, the Central
Commission for Discipline Inspection,
said on Friday it was probing Lu, who it
identified only as the former chairman
of Beijing Energy Investment, although it
gave no details.
Beijing Energy Investment holds 5.08%
of the bank’s shares. Bank of Beijing has
a market value of 106bn yuan ($16.93bn)
and operates primarily in the domestic
Fitch Ratings said neither probe would
likely have a significant impact on the
banks’ operations, pointing out that Lu sat
on the Bank of Beijing’s board only as a
representative of its shareholder, Beijing
Energy Investment.
“However, these events at Minsheng
and Bank of Beijing could be a precursor
to a wider investigation into corporate
management,” it said. “If so, as far as the
financial sector is concerned, it has the
potential to enhance transparency and
improve governance standards in the long
run – which would be credit positive.”
Du Changchun, an analyst at Northeast
Securities in Shanghai, said the
investigations would probably not
undermine investor confidence in banking
shares either. “The chances of problems
blowing up are slim,” Du said.
The Chinese government’s probe into the
financial sector comes as part of a broader
campaign to root out corruption at major
state-run conglomerates.
The official Xinhua news agency said
on Monday that anti-graft teams would
be sent into 72 major state-run firms,
including 19 in the financial and rail
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Apple raises $6.5bn from bond market share buyback funding
Maestri: Fulfilling a pledge to boost the value of Apple
fall on
sian stocks sagged yesterday amid ongoing growth
concerns, while the Australian dollar plumbed six-year
lows after the Reserve Bank of
Australia cut interest rates to a
record low.
MSCI’s broadest index of
Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.2% after the latest
batch of weak US data worsened
worries about the state of the
global economy. Japan’s Nikkei
shed 1.2% and Hong Kong’s
Hang Seng lost 0.4%.
Many Asian bourses gained
earlier in the session after
Greece’s new government appeared to take a step towards
ending a stand-off with its creditors, before the lift petered out.
Buoyed by the RBA rate cut,
Australian shares bucked the
trend and surged 1.5%. The RBA
cut its cash rate by a quarter of a
point to 2.25% in a bid to spur a
sluggish economy.
As a consequence the Aussie
retreated to $0.7650, lowest since
May 2009. Suffering collateral
damage, the New Zealand dollar
retreated to a four-year bottom
of $0.7194.
“There’ll be room for another
cut this year, how soon remains
to be seen. We’ve been thinking
two (cuts) and it’s hard to steer
away from that at this point,”
said David De Garis, senior economist at National Australia Bank.
The RBA was the latest domino
to fall as central banks across the
globe eased to support sputtering economies and ward off deflation. The RBA move was seen
adding pressure on the Bank of
Korea to cut rates, forcing the
Korean won to pare gains. US
crude oil was up 0.6% at $49.88
a barrel, having already surged
more than 10% over the past two
sessions as some investors bet
that a bottom had been reached
after a seven-month-long rout.
Apple Inc is showing it can keep coming back
to the bond market to fund share buybacks
and preserve its overseas cash hoard.
The iPhone maker sold $6.5bn in debt on
Monday in a deal that was bigger than it
initially intended with borrowing costs that
are some of its lowest ever. The offering
included 30-year debt with a 3.45% coupon,
or 0.3 percentage point less than the recordlow yield investors demanded on Friday to
own similar corporate debt with comparable
Apple has now raised the equivalent of $39bn
from the bond market in less than two years,
bringing the company closer to fulfilling a
pledge to boost the value of its stock amid
pressure from billionaire activist investor Carl
Icahn. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri
told analysts last week that the Cupertino,
California-based company has completed
$103bn of it $130bn capital returns plan.
“Apple has proven itself to be pretty
thoughtful and shrewd when it comes to
capital allocation over the last couple of
years, and that hasn’t been lost on the bond
market,” said Scott Kessler, a technology
analyst at S&P Capital IQ in New York.
“It makes sense for them to be active
participants in the corporate bond market.”
Apple has been turning to bonds instead of
using cash that’s mostly held overseas, which
would subject it to repatriation taxes. Apple
ended December with about $178bn in cash
and marketable securities, according to a
company statement on January 27. Of that
$157.8bn were held by foreign subsidiaries.
Investors have been rewarded well for
owning Apple bonds, which have returned
13.7% since the end of 2013, outperforming
the 10.3% gain in debt of similarly rated
companies, according to Bank of America
Merrill Lynch index data. The extra yield
investors demand to own the debt has
dropped 3 basis points during the same
period, even as it widened 16 basis points
on average for borrowings of companies
with similar ratings. A basis point is 0.01
percentage point.
Icahn in October renewed pressure on Apple
to accelerate the stock buybacks, saying
its shares are undervalued and should
be at $203. That’d give Apple a market
capitalisation of more than $1tn. Apple’s
shares closed at $118.63 in New York Monday.
Apple increased its capital return programme
to $100bn in April 2013, including share
buybacks and dividends. The company raised
it by $30bn in April last year along with a
boost to the dividend and split of its stock
The new borrowings come after Apple posted
a 30% jump in fiscal first quarter revenue
to $74.6bn on January 27, its largest sales
increase in three years. Net income rose 38%
to a record $18bn.
Sensex dips 122 points;
rupee at one-week high
he benchmark index of Indian
equities markets closed yesterday’s trade down 122.13 points or
0.42%, as investors’ sentiments were
subdued after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to keep key interest
rates unchanged in its sixth bi-monthly
policy review.
Initially after the RBI announcement
the markets tumbled by 221.86 points,
but later pared some of the losses.
Heavy selling was observed in the interest sensitive banking and automobile
sector. Other sectors such as healthcare, realty and power stocks too came
under selling pressure.
However, oil and gas, fast-moving
consumer goods (FMCG), metal, consumer durables and technology, entertainment and media (TECK) sectors
made healthy gains.
The 30-scrip Sensitive Index
(Sensex) of the S&P Mumbai Stock
Exchange (BSE), which opened at
29,217.40 points, closed the day’s trade
at 29,000.14 points, down 122.13 points
or 0.42% from the previous day’s close
at 29,122.27 points.
The Sensex touched a high of
29,253.06 points and a low of 28,900.41
points in the intra-trade during the day.
In its sixth bi-monthly policy review, the Reserve Bank of India kept the
repo rate, or the interest that banks pay
when they borrow money from the RBI
to meet their short-term fund requirements, unchanged at 7.75%.
Consequent to the RBI’s decision, the
reverse repo rate, or the interest that
the RBI pays to commercial banks when
they park their surplus short-term
funds with the central bank, remained
at 6.75%.
The status quo in these key policy
rates mean that the equated monthly
instalments (EMIs) on home, auto and
other loans would remain unchanged.
On the liquidity front, the RBI reduced the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR)
which is the mandatory amount of cash,
gold, bonds or other securities that
banks must keep with it.
The SLR has been reduced by 50 basis
points to 21.5% of their net demand and
time liabilities (NDTL) effective from
the fortnight beginning February 7.
A view of the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Sensex, which opened at 29,217.40 points, closed yesterday’s trade at 29,000.14 points, down 122.13 points or 0.42% from the
previous day’s close at 29,122.27 points.
The reduced SLR will help inject additional capital into the financial system. The Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) is
left unchanged at 4%.
The RBI’s action was on expected
lines as most analysts had predicted a
status quo, considering the apex bank
last month cut the repo rate.
“RBI event was on expected lines but
correction in realty and financials signalled market’s expectation for a rate
cut,” said Vinod Nair, head-fundamental research, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Meanwhile, bucking the weak trend
in stocks, Indian rupee yesterday
strengthened 13 paise to end at nearly
one-week high of 61.67 against the
greenback on persistent selling of dollars by banks and exporters on a day the
RBI kept interest rates unchanged.
The rupee opened higher at 61.65 per
dollar as against Monday’s closing level
of 61.80 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market. It moved up further to 61.61 per dollar on initial selling
of dollars by banks.
ECB stimulus distorts credit markets
“The borrowing is a bullish signal in the
confidence of their business,” said Michael
Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity
Inc in Minneapolis. “A debt offering is about
the sustainability of providing strong longterm cash flows, and taking advantage of
attractively priced financing.” Steve Dowling,
a spokesman for Apple, didn’t respond to a
telephone call and e-mail seeking comment
on the offering.
The company issued the securities in five
parts, including $2bn of 30-year bonds,
Bloomberg data show. The average yield
on the highest-rated company bonds with
maturities of at least 15 years was 3.76% on
January 31, according to Bank of America
Merill Lynch Index data.
“Apple is getting attractive terms,” Mike
Buchanan, the Pasadena, California-based
head of global credit at Western Asset, said in
a telephone interview. “The demand for high
quality will continue to encourage companies
to tap the market.”
redit markets are being so distorted by the European Central Bank’s
record stimulus that investors are
poised to pay for the privilege of parking
their cash with Nestle.
The Swiss chocolate maker’s securities,
which have the third-highest credit ranking at Aa2, may be among the first corporate
bonds to trade with a negative yield, according to Bank of America Corp’s Londonbased strategist Barnaby Martin.
Covered bonds, which are bank securities
backed by loans, started trading with yields
below zero at the end of September.
With the growing threat of falling prices
menacing the euro-area’s fragile economy,
some investors are calculating it’s worth
owning Nestle bonds, even with little or no
return. That’s because yields on more than
$2tn of the developed world’s sovereign
debt, including German bunds, have turned
negative and the ECB charges 0.2% interest
for cash deposits.
“In the same way that bunds went negative, there’s nothing, in theory, to stop
short-dated corporate bond yields going slightly negative as well,” Martin said.
“If investors want to park some cash, the
problem with putting it in a bank or money
market fund is potential negative returns,
because of the negative deposit rate policy
of the ECB.”
Vevey-based Nestle SA’s 0.75% notes
due October 2016 were quoted to yield
0.05% today, according to data compiled
by Bloomberg. Officials at Nestle declined
to comment on its bonds before publication of the company’s full-year 2014 results
on February 19 It isn’t the only company
with short-dated bond yields verging on
turning negative. Roche Holding AG, the
world’s largest seller of cancer drugs, issued
€2.75bn of bonds with a coupon of 5.625%
in 2009. The notes, which mature in March
2016, pay 0.09%, Bloomberg data show.
“The current yield is market-driven,”
Nicolas Dunant, head of media relations at
Basel, Switzerland-based Roche, said in an
e-mail. “The bond has traded up because
it has become increasingly attractive for
investors in the current low-rate environment.” The average yield investors demand
to hold investment-grade corporate bonds
in euros fell to a record 0.9868% yesterday,
less than half the 2.1% level at the end of
2013, according to Bank of America Merrill
Lynch index data.
Borrowers have yet to test negative rates
in the new issue market. Instead of having
a negative coupon, borrowers could opt for
a zero-coupon bond with a price above par,
according to Frank Will, head of covered
bond research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Dusseldorf.
“If you hold a bond to maturity and it
has a negative yield that means you will
get back less than the price you paid for it,”
said Mahesh Bhimalingam, head of European credit strategy at BNP Paribas SA in
London. “However, if it goes more negative
you could benefit from gains in the price.”
Falling prices and stubbornly high unemployment encouraged ECB President Mario
Draghi to embark on an unprecedented plan
to buy €60bn of assets a month for at least
19 months.
The euro area’s annual inflation rate fell to
minus 0.6% last month, matching the biggest decline in prices in the history of the
single currency, according to data published
by Eurostat.
The stimulus programme has encouraged
traders to take massive concentrated positions in “fantastically” overpriced markets,
according to Paul Singer, the billionaire
founder of Elliott Management Corp. “Today’s trading levels of stocks and bonds reflect ‘thumb on the scale’ valuations driven
by persistent and massive government asset purchases and zero% (or lower!) shortterm policy rates, as well as an essentially
unlimited tolerance for risk,” Elliott wrote
in the firm’s fourth-quarter letter dated
January 30, a copy of which was obtained by
Bloomberg News.
The ECB started buying covered bonds
in October and has since accumulated
€40.3bn of the notes, which typically have
higher credit ratings because they’re backed
by assets as well as being guaranteed by the
issuer. Deutsche Bank AG’s 3.375% covered
notes maturing in 2018, which are backed by
home loans, last week yielded minus 0.03%,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
However, it fell to 61.84 per dollar in
the afternoon on fresh demand from
some banks before closing at 61.67 per
dollar, showing a gain of 13 paise or
0.21% from its last close.
The rupee has now gained by 19 paise,
or 0.31%, in two days and has closed at
its strongest level since 61.41 on January 28, 2015.
Greek stocks soar 11%
The Greek stock market soared yesterday on hopes that
a deal can be reached between the new government in
Athens and Greece’s international creditors.
The general Athex index closed up 11.27% at 841 points, after
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis set out the government’s
plans to renegotiate its mountain of debt.
The increase marks a correction of the market to the level
seen before the January 25 elections, which swept the antiausterity Syriza party into government.
The banking index finished the day up 17.96%.
In a further sign of growing investor confidence, the rate
of return on 10-year Greek bonds fell to 9.7% before rising
slightly. It had reached 11% last week.
The victory of Syriza on a promise of ending austerity and
halving Greece’s debt caused turmoil in European financial
markets. Stocks slumped 9.2% last Wednesday to their
lowest level since June 2012 and shares in Greece’s four
main banks lost more than a quarter of their value.
But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis have this
week been touring European capitals to reassure their
creditors and allies that a default – and possible Greek exit
from the single currency area – is not on the cards. They have
given more details of their proposed renegotiation, including
plans not to write off Greek debt but to reformat the loans in
what Varoufakis described as “smart debt engineering”.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
Qatar & Oman Investment Co
Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
Qatar Islamic Insurance
Qatar Industrial Manufactur
Qatar International Islamic
Qatari Investors Group
Qatar Islamic Bank
Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat)
Qatar General Insurance & Re
Qatar German Co For Medical
Qatar Fuel Co
Qatar Electricity & Water Co
Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib
Qatar Insurance Co
Ooredoo Qsc
National Leasing
Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi
Al Meera Consumer Goods Co
Medicare Group
Mannai Corporation Qsc
Masraf Al Rayan
Al Khalij Commercial Bank
Industries Qatar
Islamic Holding Group
Gulf Warehousing Company
Gulf International Services
Ezdan Holding Group
Doha Insurance Co
Doha Bank Qsc
Dlala Holding
Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc
Barwa Real Estate Co
Al Khaleej Takaful Group
Aamal Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Al-Ahsa Development Co.
Al-Baha Development & Invest
Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur
Allied Cooperative Insurance
Arriyadh Development Company
Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv
Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran
Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur
Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev
Al Babtain Power & Telecommu
Bank Albilad
Alujain Corporation (Alco)
Aldrees Petroleum And Transp
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
Alinma Bank
Alinma Tokio Marine
Al Khaleej Training And Educ
Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera
Almarai Co
Saudi Integrated Telecom Co
Alsorayai Group
Al Tayyar Travel Group
Amana Cooperative Insurance
Anaam International Holding
Abdullah Al Othaim Markets
Arabian Pipes Co
Advanced Petrochemicals Co
Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative
Arabian Cement
Arab National Bank
Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co
United Wire Factories Compan
Astra Industrial Group
Alahli Takaful Co
Axa Cooperative Insurance
Basic Chemical Industries
Bishah Agriculture
Bank Al-Jazira
Banque Saudi Fransi
United International Transpo
Bupa Arabia For Cooperative
Buruj Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Airlines Catering Co
Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
Eastern Province Cement Co
Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat
Etihad Etisalat Co
Emaar Economic City
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu
United Electronics Co
Falcom Saudi Equity Etf
Filing & Packing Materials M
Wafrah For Industry And Deve
Falcom Petrochemical Etf
Gulf General Cooperative Ins
Jazan Development Co
Gulf Union Cooperative Insur
Halwani Bros Co
Hail Cement
Herfy Food Services Co
Al Jouf Agriculture Developm
Jarir Marketing Co
Jabal Omar Development Co
Al Jouf Cement
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co
Knowledge Economic City
Kingdom Holding Co
Saudi Arabian Mining Co
Malath Cooperative & Reinsur
Makkah Construction & Devepl
Mediterranean & Gulf Insuran
Middle East Specialized Cabl
Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co
Mouwasat Medical Services Co
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co
Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co
Salama Cooperative Insurance
Samba Financial Group
Sanad Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Public Transport Co
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co
Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei
Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Viva Kuwait Telecom Co
Securities Group Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
Gulf North Africa Holding Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
Oman Oil Marketing Company
0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
Oman Cables Industry
Oman Agricultural Dev
Omani Qatari Telecommunicati
National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
National Pharmaceutical-Rts
National Pharmaceutical
National Packaging Fac
National Mineral Water
National Hospitality Institu
National Gas Co
National Finance Co
National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu
Dhofar Cattlefeed
Al Batinah Dev & Inv
Dhofar Beverages Co
Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
#N/A Invalid Security
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Rak Properties
Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu
Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co
National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co Pjsc
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
Abu Dhabi National Insurance
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Abu Dhabi Aviation
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
United Gulf Bank
United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
#N/A Invalid Security
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kpsc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Company Name
Exxon Mobil Corp
Microsoft Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
General Electric Co
Procter & Gamble Co/The
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Chevron Corp
Pfizer Inc
Verizon Communications Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
At&T Inc
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Walt Disney Co/The
Intl Business Machines Corp
Home Depot Inc
Cisco Systems Inc
United Technologies Corp
3M Co
Boeing Co/The
Unitedhealth Group Inc
Mcdonald’s Corp
American Express Co
Nike Inc -Cl B
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
FTSE 100
Company Name
Wpp Plc
Wolseley Plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Whitbread Plc
Weir Group Plc/The
Vodafone Group Plc
United Utilities Group Plc
Unilever Plc
Tullow Oil Plc
Tui Ag-New
Tui Ag-Di
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Taylor Wimpey Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Sky Plc
Shire Plc
Severn Trent Plc
Schroders Plc
Sainsbury (J) Plc
Sage Group Plc/The
Sabmiller Plc
Rsa Insurance Group Plc
Royal Mail Plc
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-B Shs
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-A Shs
Royal Bank Of Scotland Group
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc
Rio Tinto Plc
Reed Elsevier Plc
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc
Randgold Resources Ltd
Prudential Plc
Persimmon Plc
Pearson Plc
Old Mutual Plc
Next Plc
National Grid Plc
Mondi Plc
Meggitt Plc
Marks & Spencer Group Plc
London Stock Exchange Group
Lloyds Banking Group Plc
Legal & General Group Plc
Land Securities Group Plc
Kingfisher Plc
Johnson Matthey Plc
Itv Plc
Intu Properties Plc
Intl Consolidated Airline-Di
Intertek Group Plc
Intercontinental Hotels Grou
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hargreaves Lansdown Plc
Hammerson Plc
Glencore Plc
Glaxosmithkline Plc
Gkn Plc
G4s Plc
Friends Life Group Ltd
Fresnillo Plc
Experian Plc
Easyjet Plc
Dixons Carphone Plc
Direct Line Insurance Group
Diageo Plc
Crh Plc
Compass Group Plc
Coca-Cola Hbc Ag-Cdi
Centrica Plc
Carnival Plc
Capita Plc
Burberry Group Plc
Bunzl Plc
Bt Group Plc
British Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barratt Developments Plc
Barclays Plc
Bae Systems Plc
Babcock Intl Group Plc
Aviva Plc
Astrazeneca Plc
Associated British Foods Plc
Ashtead Group Plc
Arm Holdings Plc
Antofagasta Plc
Anglo American Plc
Aggreko Plc
Admiral Group Plc
Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc
3I Group Plc
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
Nikkei 225
Japan Topix
Hang Seng Index
All Ordinaries Indx
Nzx All Index
Bse Sensex 30 Index
Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index
Straits Times Index
Karachi All Share Index
Jakarta Composite Index
Company Name
Bridgestone Corp
Asahi Glass Co Ltd
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta
Sumitomo Metal Industries
Kobe Steel Ltd
Jfe Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd
Sumitomo Electric Industries
Smc Corp
Komatsu Ltd
Kubota Corp
Daikin Industries Ltd
Hitachi Ltd
Toshiba Corp
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Nidec Corp
Nec Corp
Fujitsu Ltd
Panasonic Corp
Sharp Corp
Sony Corp
Tdk Corp
Keyence Corp
Denso Corp
Fanuc Corp
Rohm Co Ltd
Kyocera Corp
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
Nitto Denko Corp
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Toyota Motor Corp
Honda Motor Co Ltd
Suzuki Motor Corp
Nikon Corp
Hoya Corp
Canon Inc
Ricoh Co Ltd
Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd
Nintendo Co Ltd
Itochu Corp
Marubeni Corp
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Tokyo Electron Ltd
Sumitomo Corp
Mitsubishi Corp
Aeon Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro
Resona Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr
Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The
Mizuho Financial Group Inc
Orix Corp
Daiwa Securities Group Inc
Nomura Holdings Inc
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin
Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance
Tokio Marine Holdings Inc
T&D Holdings Inc
Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd
Sumitomo Realty & Developmen
East Japan Railway Co
West Japan Railway Co
Central Japan Railway Co
Ana Holdings Inc
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
Kddi Corp
Ntt Docomo Inc
Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc
Chubu Electric Power Co Inc
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
A man looks at monitors showing the general index and a stock ticker showing stock options gaining large amounts inside
the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday. The Greek stock market soared by more than 11.3% for the day.
Europe markets rally
on Greek debt hopes
urope’s main stock markets rallied yesterday, recording a second day of gains on hopes of a
deal being struck on Greece’s debt,
with a rebound in oil prices helping
energy shares.
The Greek stock market soared by
more than 11.3% after Athens elaborated on its plans that would see repayment of its huge international
bailout loans delayed but avoid a
politically sensitive write-off of the
London’s FTSE 100 rose 1.32% to
6,871.80 points, in Paris the CAC 40
rose 1.09% to 4,677.90 points, and
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index climbed
0.58% to a record high close of
10,890.95 points.
Madrid spiked 2.32% higher and Milan 2.57%.
The euro leapt to $1.1456 from
$1.1343 late in New York late on Monday.
“Global equity markets extended
gains in today’s trading session and
climbed higher following a strong rebound in crude oil prices and as concerns regarding Greece’s uncertainty
eased,” said analyst Myrto Sokou at
Sucden Research.
Greece’s new anti-austerity leaders
flew into Rome yesterday to build sup-
port for new proposals aimed at ending
a stand-off with the country’s eurozone partners which footed the bill for
the country’s bailout.
In an interview with the Financial
Times, Greek Finance Minister Yanis
Varoufakis said the leftist-dominated
government in Athens would be making proposals for “a menu of debt
swaps” that would avoid the need for
any of the country’s mountain of foreign debt to be written off.
“Greece’s problems are far from over
but as far as the markets are concerned
calm has been restored,” said David
Madden, market analyst at IG trading
On the corporate front, the energy
sector won support from signs of recovery in the oil market.
“The bounce in oil has boosted
shares in the commodity sector and
this theme could continue for some
time yet,” noted Fawad Razaqzada,
analyst at
“Oil prices have rebounded strongly
over the past three trading sessions on
signs that producers are cutting back
European benchmark Brent North
Sea crude for delivery in March jumped
$1.20 to $55.94 per barrel in late London trading, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March won $1.15 to
Shares in BP jumped by 2.78% to
449.85 pence, lifted also by better-
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
than-expected earnings revealed by
the British energy group.
The company meanwhile joined sector peers in announcing that it plans to
slash investment this year as the recent
plunge in crude prices bites into group
Spending in 2015 was expected to
total about $20bn, down from a previous guidance of $24-26bn, BP said in a
results statement.
And smaller British rival BG Group
revealed it would cut investment by
about $3.0bn this year.
Royal Dutch Shell gained 5.36% to
2,180pence, and Tullow Oil climbed
4.61 pence.
In Paris, shares in Total rose 2.72% to
Mining stocks benefitted from Australia’s central bank cut interest rates
to a record low 2.25%, which sent the
Aussie dollar lower.
Shares in Glencore soared 6.42% to
269.35 pence and BHP Billiton gained
5.02% to 1,558.50 pence. Shares in
Anglo American climbed 4.09% to
1,170pence and Rio Tinto climbed
3.88% to 3,076pence.
“Mining companies including BHP
Billiton and Rio Tinto with large Australian operations benefited from an
overnight rate cut from the Reserve
Bank of Australia which sent production costs tumbling alongside the
Australian dollar,” said analyst Jasper
Lawler at CMC Markets UK.
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The
accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended
as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank
or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on
this data.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Political agendas and
global energy market
By Denise Marray
Gulf Times Correspondent
nalysing the political and market
forces that have an impact on oil
and gas prices is no easy task, but
what is clear is that there is no shortage of
conspiracy theories swirling around the
energy sector.
Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School
(WBS) when asked for his views on the
political drivers affecting oil and gas prices said: “It certainly serves the interests
of the United States and its allies to have
a low oil price as part of the problems that
Russia is facing. But whether producers would go for a self-inflicted injury in
terms of driving down the price is another
matter. The Russians see a conspiracy
between the Americans and the Saudis
to ‘get at’ them and Iran. That, of course,
runs contradictory to the line of argument that Opec is doing this to cause pain
to tight oil producers in the US. It’s undoubtedly a combination of politics and
Russia is paying a high price for inciting hostility over its policy on Ukraine at
a time of global downward pressure on
oil and gas prices. As Bradshaw noted:
“Twelve months ago we were living in a
different world. The Russian government
liberalised the export of LNG and there
were a variety of projects. Those projects
have fallen foul of sanctions and the hardening attitudes of, for example, Japanese
buyers, to buying LNG from Russia due to
the sanctions. There are no sanctions as
such on LNG but it’s a reputational issue.
Russia at the moment has only one functioning LNG project, Sakhalin II.”
In the UK, party politics, particularly
in the run-up to the General Election in
Bradshaw: Seeing structural change in the energy sector.
May, are having an impact on companies
such as Cuadrilla that are intent on finding out whether shale extraction within
these shores is a viable business. Caudrilla, formed in 2007 as a privately owned
exploration and production company,
receives funding for its exploration phase
costs from British multinational utility
company Centrica plc.
Cuadrilla is now seven months into
a process of applying for permission to
search for shale gas in Lancashire, but following a deferral last week it now faces another 8 weeks of delay before the outcome
of its application to drill up to 8 exploratory wells at two sites is known. During a
debate in the House of Common’s on the
Infrastructure Bill last week, the Government was forced into accepting a Labour
amendment to stop fracking going ahead
unless a series of tough conditions are
first met. Labour’s amendment included
establishing 13 specifications, without
which no shale gas extraction could take
place anywhere in the UK. The Bill will
now return to the Lords for further scrutiny and it remains to be seen what the
outcome on the legislation governing the
industry will be. In the aftermath of this
debate, the Scottish Government has
placed its own moratorium on fracking
while a public enquiry is held.
Bradshaw commented that while Labour’s intervention was signalled some
time ago, the timing might be politically
motivated to appease the Green vote.
“The government maintains that many
of the amendments were actually planned
anyway, but things like a twelve month
environmental monitoring ahead of drilling is bound to slow the progress down
– we will have to wait and see if it finally
becomes law.”
He pointed out that all three major parties are in principle supportive of developing a shale gas industry.
“The three main parties in principle
support shale gas drilling, although the
greatest enthusiasm is on the part of the
Conservative Party, particularly on the
part of the Treasury. I think the Liberal
Democrats have always been a bit more
realistic about the prospects – if anyone
is trying to make it an election issue it is
probably the Labour Party.”
Bradshaw said that it is important to
remember that at this stage the viability
of a shale gas industry in the UK is not
yet known: “The industry in the UK is at
a very, very, early stage. We need to get
through a phase of exploration and appraisal drilling at the existing sites. We are
also in the midst of a new licensing round
and we don’t know the results of that yet.
During this year we may see more licences
awarded through the 14th Landward Licensing Round, and we may see some
progress on the licences from the 13th
round that include Cuadrilla’s licences.”
He added: “The hope is that everyone,
both regulators and industry, can learn
from Cuadrilla’s experience and that future attempts to get drilling approval will
go better.”
Looking ahead, he said that if carbon
budgets tied to climate change policies
are to be adhered to there will have to be
a global move away from the use of fossil fuels. Such a structural change in the
energy sector, he observed, may already
be in its infancy particularly as it is noted that emerging economies are seeking
to be more energy efficient and less reliant on oil.
GE and Pfizer face
$506bn foreign-cash
tax in Obama plan
New York
he US companies including General Electric
Co, Microsoft Corp and
Pfizer would pay $506bn over
the next decade under President Barack Obama’s proposal
to encourage them to bring
back profits held overseas.
That trio tops the list of
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index
companies in earnings reinvested outside the US, according to Bloomberg Intelligence
analysts Brian Friel and Tiffany Young. Obama’s budget
estimates the stockpile of corporate earnings outside the US
at about $2tn.
US business lobbyists have
been seeking policy changes
to help repatriate profits at
a rate they deem acceptable.
Obama’s plan envisions a levy
of 19% for future earnings and
a one-time, 14% tax on current profits outside the US. .
“The odds start low, but you
can see momentum building
because the president’s proposal here is the most in-depth
proposal” he has offered, Friel
said in a telephone interview
from Washington. “That’s an
indication that he’s serious
about engaging with Republicans to try and strike a deal.”
Obama’s proposals on future foreign profits and other
international tax-code changes would raise an estimated
$238bn over the next 10 years,
according to an analysis by
Friel and Young. The one-time
tax on current earnings held
abroad would fetch $268bn
over the next decade, Friel and
Young’s analysis shows.
Proceeds from the one-time
levy would go to invest in US
infrastructure, according to
Obama’s budget plan.
GE led US companies with
about $110bn of earnings reinvested outside of the US as of
the end of 2013, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg
Microsoft held $92.9bn of
its profits outside of the US as
of June 30, while Pfizer’s total
was about $69bn as of December 31, 2013.
Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for New York-based
Pfizer, declined to comment
on Obama’s tax plan. Peter
Wootton, a spokesman for
Redmond, Washington-based
Microsoft, didn’t respond to
a voice-mail message left for
GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, supports comprehensive tax-law changes, including closing loopholes and
adopting a rate in line with
those of major US trading
partners, said Seth Martin, a
GE keeps foreign earnings outside the US because it
needs to reinvest in those operations and because “under
current US law we would be
taxed twice - overseas at the
point of sale and again in the
US, essentially charging us
more to invest at home than
foreign competitors,” Martin
said by e-mail.
The Information Technology Industry Council in
Washington said taxation of
overseas earnings “gives us
significant pause” and urged
the Obama administration and
Congress to “give our broken
tax code a complete reboot.”
BP slashes investment as sliding oil prices hit profits
Revenue in Spirit’s fuselage business, which
contributes half its total revenue, rose 12.4% to
The company’s order backlog rose 7% to $47bn.
Spirit disposed of its money-losing Gulfstream
wings business to Triumph Group in December. The
company paid Triumph $160mn to take over the
business, which had been on the block for more
than a year.
Danske Bank
BP yesterday joined a list of energy giants planning
to slash investment this year as tumbling oil prices
bite into group profits.
Spending in 2015 was expected to total about
$20bn (€17.6bn), down from a previous guidance of
$24-26bn, BP said in a results statement.
And smaller British rival BG Group revealed it would
cut investment by about $3.0bn this year.
“We have now entered a new and challenging
phase of low oil prices through the near and medium term,” BP chief executive Bob Dudley said in
the earnings statement.
“Our focus must now be on resetting BP: managing
and rebalancing our capital programme and cost
base for the new reality of lower prices while always
maintaining safe, reliable and efficient operations.”
BP said underlying replacement cost profit—a measure of earnings watched by the market—dropped
almost 10% to $12.1bn in 2014 compared with a year
BP booked a $3.6bn net charge in the fourth
quarter, which it said reflected “the impact of the
near-term lower oil price environment, revisions to
reserves and other factors”.
As a result it reported a replacement cost loss of
$969mn for the final three months of last year.
BP’s annual net profit tumbled to $3.78bn from
$23.45bn in 2013 but the figure was skewed by a
huge one-off gain the previous year earned from
the sale of its interest in joint venture TNK-BP to
Russia’s Rosneft.
The group’s share price rallied despite yesterday’s
results, winning 2.54% to 448.80 pence on London’s
FTSE 100 index, which was up 1.18% at 6,862.85
points in late morning trade.
Emerson Electric
Factory automation equipment maker Emerson
Electric Co’s quarterly revenue fell slightly due to
a strong dollar and divestitures, and the company
said it now expected sales to fall 1-4% in 2015.
Shares of the company, which had earlier said it
expected reported sales to stay flat or rise by 1% in
2015, fell 2% in volatile premarket trading.
Emerson blamed a strong dollar, lower oil prices
and weakness in Europe, Latin America and the
Middle East and Africa region for its weak sales
The company sold its power transmission unit in
December to Regal Beloit Corp for $1.44bn, as part
of its efforts to focus on its high-growth businesses.
Emerson said yesterday that it would spend
$100mn on restructuring in 2015, double the
amount it had estimated earlier.
The restructuring will impact about 1,000 salaried
and 1,000 hourly employees, the company said.
It was not clear if these employees were being
relocated within the company or being offered
severance packages.
Emerson had about 115,100 employees as of
September 30. The company was not immediately
available for comment.
Emerson’s net earnings attributable to common
shareholders rose to $525mn, or 75 cents per
share, in the first quarter ended December 31 from
$462mn, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.
Spirit AeroSystems
Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, which makes fuselages for Boeing Co, reported a better-than-expected
quarterly profit as the world’s largest planemaker
bumped up production.
Spirit also said it expected a full-year 2015 profit of
$3.60-$3.80 per share, above the average analyst
estimate of $3.60, according to Thomson Reuters
Boeing, which contributes about 84% of Spirit’s
annual revenue, delivered 195 commercial aircraft
in the fourth quarter, up from 172 last year, and said
it would deliver 750 to 755 commercial planes in
Spirit said ship-set deliveries - or complete sets of
parts for each aircraft - to Boeing rose to 172 in the
quarter from 154 last year. The company delivered
a total of 369 ship sets in the quarter, up from 357
a year ago.
Danske Bank has raised its return on equity targets
and set a net profit growth forecast for 2015
exceeding last year’s result, hoping its cost controls
and a reorganisation across Northern Europe will
offset low interest rates in the region.
Denmark’s largest bank by market capitalisation
reported a smaller-than-expected pretax loss, reflecting higher income from its insurance business
and income from increased customer activity.
It launched a 5bn Danish crown buyback scheme,
proposed a higher than expected dividend and said
it would pay more of it net profit in the future in
dividends—news which helped push shares up 1.3%
to 174.6 crowns each.
Danske Bank said it expected to earn more than
14bn crowns in net profit this year compared to the
12.9bn crowns it earned in 2014 before a goodwill
impairment charge of 9bn crowns.
British online grocer Ocado reported an annual
pretax profit for the first time in its 15 year history
yesterday and said it aimed this year to seal its first
technology deal with an overseas retailer.
Ocado, founded by three former Goldman Sachs
bankers in 2000, has divided analysts like few other
stocks, with some viewing its door-step deliveries
from giant distribution centres as the future of
grocery shopping and others seeing it as a costly
and complicated venture that will never make
much money.
The company, whose investors have included Jorn
Rausing and former US vice-president Al Gore,
signed its first third-party deal in 2013 to carry out
online orders for British grocer Morrisons, and
believes it can also help foreign retailers to ramp up
their online businesses.
“We are targeting to sign the first such agreement
during 2015 although there is no guarantee we can
meet this timeline,” Chief Executive Tim Steiner
told reporters, adding he was talking to parties in
Europe, North and Latin America and Asia.
Ocado shares, which have had a rollercoaster ride
since they debuted at 180 pence apiece in 2010,
were up 3.1% to 428.3 pence at 1000 GMT.
“Investor willingness to be short of the shares may
diminish in the months ahead given management’s
clearer optimism regarding a deal being signed,”
said Barclays analysts, who have a “neutral” rating
on the stock.
Japanese electronics giant Panasonic said yesterday it was still on track to book a $1.19bn annual
profit, despite a drop in nine-month earnings due to
one-time gains a year earlier.
The Osaka-based company’s earnings for the
April-December period came to ¥140.4bn, down
42% from a year earlier, while revenue ticked up
1.0% to ¥5.7tn. But it said it still expects to post a
¥140bn profit in the fiscal year to March, pointing to
strength in its energy and auto units, while a sharp
drop in the yen also provided strong support.
“Sales of solar panels for homes continued to be
stable in Japan, and demand (in the) automotiverelated business steadily increased in its global
market,” the firm said in a statement.
“Yen depreciation also contributed to the overseas
sales increase.”
After posting record losses, Panasonic along
with rivals Sony and Sharp have launched painful
restructuring as falling prices in the television business weighed on their bottom line.
As it moves away from consumer products, Panasonic is pulling the plug on its last remaining TV
manufacturing factory in China and will reportedly
sell its plant in Mexico owing to a sharp decline in
television prices—its TV business has lost money
over the last six years.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s largest
lender by assets, reported an 18% rise in ninemonth profit, with aggressive overseas expansion
offsetting continued weakness in domestic lending.
MUFG, which acquired Bank of Ayudhya, Thailand’s
fifth-largest lender, in 2013, has been faring better
than its Japanese rivals due to its larger business
activities in the US and in Asia outside Japan.
The bank said yesterday net profit came in at
¥927bn($7.9bn) for the April-December period, up
from ¥785.4bn a year earlier.
The bank’s profit growth came despite the headwinds Japanese banks are facing after the Bank of
Japan’s additional monetary easing pushed down
ultra-low interest rates even more.
MUFG owns California-based Union Bank and a
roughly 20% stake in US investment bank Morgan
Stanley. The bank kept its full-year net profit forecast at ¥950bn, down 3.5% from the previous year.
UPM-Kymmene, the world’s largest maker of
graphic paper such as newsprint and magazine
paper, beat quarterly profit forecasts and annual
dividend expectations yesterday following deep
cost cutting in Europe. The Finnish company posted
yesterday a fourth-quarter core operating profit
of €230mn ($260mn), up from €207mn a year
earlier and surpassing analysts’ average estimate of
€192mn in Reuters poll.
It proposed an annual dividend of €0.70 per share,
up from €0.60 the year before and ahead of the
0.64 expected by the analysts, and also lifted its
dividend policy.
From now on, the company aims to pay out 30-40%
of annual operating cash flow. Previously, it aimed
to distribute at least one third of net cash flow
from operating activities, less operational capital
Shares in the company rose 3.3% in early Helsinki
The eurozone’s biggest bank, Santander of Spain,
said yesterday its profits surged by nearly 40% in
2014, led by its activity in Britain and Brazil.
Despite economic uncertainty in key regions and
the sudden death of its longtime chairman Emilio
Botin in September, Santander said its profits rose
to €5.8bn ($6.6bn).
“For the first time since the start of the global
economic crisis, gross profit increased in the 10
main markets where the group operates,” it said in
a statement.
In Britain, where Santander UK is one of the leading
finance groups, profit surged 30% over the year to
€1.58bn, it said.
In key emerging market Brazil, profits rose by
eight% to €1.56bn.
“The 2014 results are set against a context of
uneven slowdowns in Latin American economies,
doubts about the eurozone’s recovery... and favourable growth expectations in the UK and the US,” it
In the US, profits were stable at €800mn.
But in Spain, where the economy is growing again
after several years of recession, profits surged by
141% to €1.2bn.
The bank said its had also boosted its results by
cutting costs and having to make fewer provisions
against the bad loans that ravaged the Spanish
banking sector during the crisis.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Nascent US oil export boom stalled by topsy-turvy market
New York
ust as the Obama administration is
starting to pull down barriers to exporting an abundance of US shale
oil, the topsy-turvy global oil markets
have thrown up new ones.
The stunning 60% collapse in oil
prices since last summer has upended the relationship between regional
markets, briefly pushing US benchmark prices above those for global
Brent crude — and effectively closing
the arbitrage for exporting processed
condensate just as US export regulators began giving some firms the green
light to press ahead.
For the moment, that’s proving to be
a less profitable prospect than many
expected. Enterprise Products Partners, which had gained a jump on rivals
with export clearance last summer,
failed to award a one-year tender to sell
processed condensate after a round of
low bids, US and Asian trade sources
said last week.
“The export boom has been postponed,” said John Auers, a consultant
at Turner, Mason & Co in Dallas.
It’s been a tumultuous period for
would-be exporters. Just a few months
ago, dozens of producers were locked
in a federal queue waiting for confirmation that they could press ahead
with sales of lightly processed shale
condensate. In late December, US regulators began giving some firms such
as Royal Dutch Shell the green light to
go ahead.
But as oil prices collapsed, some
who secured the sought-after exemption from the four-decade-old export
ban are finding it more difficult to find
buyers for their crude.
Last month, Conoco chief executive Ryan Lance told reporters that the
company was seeking permission to
export condensate, but acknowledged
that now might not be the right time to
export condensate.
The advantage for sending condensate to Asia has been closed since a cargo was sold to Shell Singapore for October loading. The US-Asia route was
uneconomical because of high freight
and cheaper Mideast alternatives.
Since then, sellers have been focusing their efforts on Europe with several
cargoes loading since November sent
to Rotterdam and France, according
to traders. Some analysts say the cur-
rent inversion in prices is likely to be
short-lived. As US oil stockpiles begin
to fill with surplus crude, and Opec is
showing no signs of cutting it output,
the pressure on domestic markets will
soon intensify — re-opening a profitable arbitrage to other markets.
Demand may come not only from
traditional refiners and petrochemical firms in Asia and Europe, but from
heavy oil producers like Mexico that
want to blend the ultra-light US oil
with their own production.
“I think this is a transitional period,”
says global commodities strategist Ed
Morse at Citi. “The dynamic is there
to have an open arb on a pretty permanent basis.” Others say the economics
may be diminished for years.
As the lowest oil prices in six years
are expected to halt the US shale boom
by the middle of this year, the fourdecade-old export ban — at the forefront of the minds of oil producers
and lawmakers last year — has become
less relevant, likely easing the pressure
from energy producers.
“The pressure on Washington to
change export policy is going to change
in current market conditions,” Auers
He says the anticipated flood of
crude oil exports has been pushed
back by up to four years to 2018-2019,
when US oil production may resume
its march toward over 10mn barrels per
day (bpd).
Until then, Washington may be able
to maintain its decades-old policy as
producers see little economic advantage to be gained from lobbying for
Greece chalks out debt
‘menu’ in bid to win
over sceptical eurozone
reece’s new government dropped
calls for a write-off of its foreign
debt and proposed ending a standoff with its official creditors by swapping
the debt for growth-linked bonds on
Monday, a week after its election on an
anti-austerity platform.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in
London to reassure private investors that
he was not seeking a showdown with
Brussels over a new debt agreement, said
the new left-wing government would
spare privately held bonds from losses, a
source told Reuters.
The reported proposals, which included
a pledge to reform the Greek economy,
contrast sharply with the government’s
strident vows in Athens last week to ditch
the tough austerity conditions imposed
under its existing bailout.
Late on Monday, Varoufakis issued a
statement saying that comments of his to
financial investors had been misinterpreted. He gave no details but he was widely
reported in Greek media to be backing
down from the government’s aim of reducing the debt.
“The government and the finance minister will not back down, irrespective of
how grieved some people are by our determination,” he said in the statement.
It was not clear whether the proposals
would be accepted by European heavyweight Germany, which opposes softening
the terms. Varoufakis had not discussed
the swap with officials from its European
Union or European Central Bank creditors,
said the source, who had direct knowledge
of the plans but would not be named due to
the sensitivity of the issue.
The finance minister also said he had
not put a value on the swap, the source
said, calling it a “work in progress”.
“These bonds held by the ECB right
now can be restructured. It’s possible to
turn it into perpetual bonds to be serviced, or growth-linked debt,” said the
source. “It’s the same with a proportion
of the other bilateral bonds held by the
Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis (left) shakes hands with his Italian counterpart Pier Carlo Padoan during their meeting
yesterday in Rome. Greece sought to add Italy to its supporters in a fight to secure easier terms on the country’s massive debt after
unveiling new proposals to end a stand-off with international lenders.
official sector.” Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Reuters in
an interview that Berlin would not accept
any unilateral changes to Greece’s debt
“We want Greece to continue going
down this successful path in the interests of Greece and the Greeks but we will
not accept one-sided changes to the programme,” he said at the Reuters Euro Zone
Varoufakis called his plan a “menu of
debt swaps” that meant Athens would
no longer call for a write-off of Greece’s
€315bn ($360bn) of foreign debt, the Financial Times reported.
“What I’ll say to our partners is that
we are putting together a combination
of a primary budget surplus and a reform
agenda,” Varoufakis told the newspaper.
“I’ll say, ‘Help us to reform our country
and give us some fiscal space to do this,
otherwise we shall continue to suffocate
and become a deformed rather than a reformed Greece’.”
Athens planned to target wealthy taxevaders and post primary budget surpluses of 1 to 1.5% of gross domestic product,
he told the paper, even if it meant his party, Syriza, could not fulfil all the spending
promises on which it was elected.
The finance minister and Greece’s new
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are touring European capitals in a diplomatic
offensive to replace Greece’s bailout accord with the European Union, ECB and
International Monetary Fund, known as
the “troika”. Yesterday, Tsipras will meet
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a
young centre-left leader thought to be
among those most sympathetic to calls for
leniency. Varoufakis said he was confident
he could reach a negotiated settlement
soon, telling Britain’s Channel 4 news it
was time to stop Greece being a “festering
wound” on Europe and dismissing a suggestion the ECB could block a new deal.
He met international investors on Monday evening. Michael Hintze, founder and
CEO of hedge fund CQS, asked afterwards
if the minister had proposed a debt swap,
said “It’s more balanced and broader than
that,” without elaborating.
The source told Reuters losses would
not be forced on private investors, saying:
“They have had enough hair cuts.”
In a statement released by the Greek Finance Ministry yesterday in Athens, Varoufakis said the government’s aim was to
pull the country out of “debt serfdom”.
Enterprise has boosted exports of US
condensate to 40,000 bpd after signing two annual contracts with PetroDiamond Singapore and Vitol.Analysts
forecasting output in the middle of
last year, before oil prices crashed, said
condensate exports could reach up to
300,000 barrels a day by the end of the
year, and double in 2015.
Now, those figures have declined as
analysts mark down expectations of
new US supply, which had been running at some 1mn bpd for the past three
“We think that the rate of growth by
the end of this year is going to be zero,
which makes the whole crude export
issue much less substantively relevant
than it was six or 12 months ago,” said
Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at
Raymond James.
Banks’ $2.7tn state
debt habit to be
tamed, says Nouy
he days of European
lenders being allowed to
load up on government
debt without having to account
for risk are numbered, according to Daniele Nouy, the euro
area’s top bank supervisor.
A regulatory loophole that
allows banks to apply a zero
risk weight to much of their
government debt holdings
and avoid any capital charge
should be closed, said Nouy,
who heads the European Central Bank’s oversight arm.
“It was confirmed during
the crisis that there are no riskfree assets,” Nouy said in an interview in Frankfurt. “So there
should be a risk weight, capital
requirements for sovereign exposures.” Nouy said she sees
movement towards closing the
loophole. “It will happen.”
Under European Union
rules, banks can rate all debt
issued by the bloc’s 28 national governments as risk-free.
This encourages so-called
carry trades, whereby lenders
borrow at low cost from the
ECB and plow the money into
state debt that offers higher
returns. “Probably at the end of
the day it will not be much, the
capital requirement will be limited, because on average those
exposures are of good quality,”
Nouy said on January 28. “But
indeed, what is not risk-free
should have a capital requirement. That’s quite clear.”
Euro-area government securities accounted for 9.3%
of total bank assets, or €2.4tn
($2.7tn), in December, according to ECB data. The yields for
10-year debt in the euro area
ranged from 0.30% for Germany to 10.91% for Greece at
10:15am in Frankfurt.
The ECB announced a programme on January 22 to buy
€60bn of assets a month for
at least 19 months to avert
deflation. The spending will
include existing programmes
to buy covered bonds and asset-backed securities. Of the
added purchases, 12% will be
debt issued by EU institutions
and agencies, and the rest will
be government bonds.
Given the scale of the issue,
regulators are likely to take
a “softly, softly,” approach
on zero risk-weighting, said
Sharon Bowles, a former
chairwoman of the European
Parliament’s Economic and
Monetary Affairs Committee.
“It’s absolutely right that
the eurozone has to do something about it,” said Bowles,
who pushed unsuccessfully
for legislators to tackle the issue in a 2013 overhaul of EU
capital rules.
Not everyone in the ECB
is sanguine about changing the way sovereign debt is
treated. While some, such as
ECB Executive Board member
Yves Mersch, see the need for
change, they worry about the
“Any regulatory initiatives
to address this issue can only
be introduced very gradually
in order to avoid market turmoil, and most likely only in
the context of other governance reforms,” Mersch said
last year.
Nouy said that within Europe, “there are certain voices
that recommend caution because we’re not out of the crisis, but I’ve not heard what I
would call resistance on this,
at least among supervisors.”
Some stirrings can be seen
at the global level, where the
Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has included
a review of the regulatory
treatment of sovereign risk in
its work program for this year
and next. No EU initiatives are
currently on the table, however. Nouy said she saw movement at both levels, without
providing details.
ECB President Mario Draghi
has said repeatedly that the
status of state debt originates
with the Basel committee.
Nouy echoed that view, saying
the treatment of government
debt as risk-free is “permitted
by the Basel committee; it’s
not a deviation.”
US refinery strike nears third day as Shell, union meet
oyal Dutch Shell negotiators met
yesterday with the union representing workers at US refineries
as a strike stretches into a third day
after talks on a new national contract
broke down.
A United Steelworkers spokeswoman said no progress was made toward a
new agreement after the two sides discussed the issues.
Walkouts called on Sunday at nine
plants with a combined 10% of US
refining capacity were the first since
1980 in support of a nationwide pact
that would cover 63 refineries.
Contract talks broke down on Sunday with workers asking for higher
wages against a backdrop of crude
prices that have plunged nearly 60%
since June, prompting oil companies to
cut spending.
“Representatives from Shell and the
United Steelworkers union (USW) resumed communications on Monday in
hopes of coming to a mutually satisfactory contract agreement,” said Shell
spokesman Ray Fisher.
A USW spokeswoman said both
sides met on Monday evening at Shell’s
“We had discussions on the issues
however no progress was made,” said
USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock.
“We are still on call and willing to
meet.” Most affected refineries were
running almost as usual, with operators having called on trained managers
to replace workers.
But one of the affected plants, Tesoro Corp’s 166,000 barrel-per-day
Martinez, California, refinery, was being fully shut down, since part of it was
already in the midst of planned maintenance work.
While refiners are promising little or
no disruption to production, wholesalers and other buyers are skittish and
snapping up available supplies.
US gasoline and diesel fuel prices
rose on Monday on concerns over supply, as well as a bounce in US benchmark crude to about $50 a barrel.
Gasoline futures traded in New York
rose more than 5 cents to $1.53 a gallon,
though retail gasoline prices are still
at their cheapest in years after having fallen about 40% since the middle
of 2014. The USW has said Shell, the
lead industry negotiator, halted negotiations early Sunday after the union
rejected a fifth proposal from the company.
Shell activated a strike contingency
plan at its joint-venture refinery and
chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas, to
maintain operations.
Tesoro said management was operating its refinery in Carson, California,
and its plant in Anacortes, Washington.
The USW also called strikes at three
plants belonging to Marathon Petroleum Corp in Texas and Kentucky,
and LyondellBasell Industries NV’s
plant near Houston. At least two of
the plants on the list have a history of
deadly accidents.
The USW said all other refineries it
represents would operate under rolling
24-hour contract extensions.
The expiring three-year national
contract covers about 30,000 hourly
workers at plants that together account
for two-thirds of US refining capacity.
The union is seeking annual pay increases of 6%, double the size of those
in the last agreement. It also wants
work that has been given in the past to
non-union contractors to start going to
A view of an entrance to the Tesoro refinery in Martinez, California. A labour strike that some fear could impact gasoline
production at several of the largest US oil refineries and chemical plants stretched into a third day yesterday, as union
workers sought a new national contract.
USW members, a tighter policy to prevent workplace fatigue and reductions
in members’ out-of-pocket payments
for healthcare.
Independent refiners, such as Valero
Energy Corp, have made big profits recently by tapping cheap crudes from
the US shale boom, while refining units
at integrated companies such as Exxon
Mobil Corp have provided a cushion
against low prices hurting upstream
But the drop in oil prices from more
than $100 per barrel last summer has
hurt the union’s hand, analysts said.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
IT plays vital role in Islamic Treasury
By Peter Bokma
The same as in conventional banks,
IT plays a vital role to have important
information available for the running
of the day-to-day Treasury business.
Information is required to see the
cash flow movements and exposures
of foreign exchange and balance
sheet assisting the treasury to make
important decisions that may have an
impact on the bank financial position.
For that reason it’s important that
current IT systems or the planning of it
are carefully accessed.
Islamic Treasury’s criteria are slightly
different from the conventional ones
and especially the products suite
used may offer some problems if not
attended too. One of the steps moving
towards the selection of treasury
systems is to know what the general
requirements are for the treasury,
since this will help to know the system
type sought after, like a cash flow
focused model with only MIS reporting
features, or others that may offer larger
suites including sophisticated product
Once the system type has been
selected, the next step is to create
the requirements of each item that
treasury has under its wing, including
related departments and activities that
may have influence on the treasury
After all, the accounting behaviour,
which is very specific for certain Islamic
treasury products are highly important,
including the timing of receiving and
releasing of confirmations are crucial
factors that are guided by Shariah
principles must be taken care of in this
United Technology
Solutions officially
launches operations
under new name
nited Technology Solutions (UTS), a whollyowned subsidiary of
United Development Company
(UDC), has officially launched its
operations by extending knowledge-based technical and business solutions and services to
The Pearl-Qatar and the rest of
UTS, which formerly operated
as United Facilities Solutions
(UFS), was established to deliver
“efficient and productive” integrated technical facility services
to a range of private and public
sector clients, who would like to
step up as “smart businesses”
by helping reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
The company also provides
concept to operation and smart
end-to-end solutions and services across various technicallychallenging vertical markets
such as building management
systems, home automation systems, security management
systems, fire alarm and protection systems, as well as digital
Also included are AMR/AMI
systems and energy management systems, IT and network
infrastructure, enterprise resource planning systems and
facilities management systems,
command control centres and
data centre management and
establishment, IPTV and telecommunications services, and
project management consultancy services and solutions.
UTS general manager Alex
Ortiz Vargas said, “UTS focuses
on the development, testing, and
application of innovative technology products and systems
for residential and commercial
properties in The Pearl-Qatar, as
well as the rest of Qatar, tapping
into the emerging market of improving business functions and
processes in the residential and
commercial real estate sector.”
Vargas added, “UTS further
seeks to contribute to the implementation and execution of na-
tional projects that fulfill the objectives of Qatar National Vision
2030, thus providing public and
private sector institutions with
integrated solutions that enable
them to provide services to their
customers more efficiently while
focusing on the present and future of their business.”
UTS is currently managing
diverse technological services
within the framework of The
Pearl-Qatar, including the provision of IPTV, which allows residents to choose between a list
of free-to-air channels available
via satellite and paid cable television packages based on subscription fees.
The company has team of
seasoned professionals, who
oversee the delivery of “highquality” technical support for
the business and the customer,
along with technical ability and
structured approach to troubleshooting and problem-solving
while ensuring the delivery of
exceptional customer satisfaction and personalised service.
As the technology arm of
UDC, UTS offers both technical
and business solutions at The
Pearl-Qatar and other locations
in Qatar in line with its motto,
“Delivering unparalleled solutions and services with smart
business by smart teams.”
assessment. One example of treasury
product is the Commodity Murabaha
transaction, which resembles a money
market transaction in conventional
The product behaviour differs from
a conventional product in terms of
execution as well as the accounting
treatment of the product. When it
comes to a conventional money market
transaction, the principle amount
is posted as an asset when it is a
placement of funds, and a liability when
borrowings concerned.
The interest portion received or paid
are posted daily to the profit and loss
account versus accrual accounts and
are offset at the time of the maturity of
the transaction.
In the case of a commodity murabaha
transaction, the accounting postings
are to include the profit amount to
the principle amount when assets
(placement of funds) concerned and
liability for borrowings and the daily
accrual process, whereby we are
booking the profit and loss versus the
asset- or liability account, thus reducing
the principle amounts until maturity,
which has a final posting at maturity
maturing the entire transaction.
The confirmation flows part is very
crucial item in terms of Shariah
In the case of the conventional banks
confirmations are send out after the
validation completion processes, which
are important back office activities of
The Islamic banks confirmation flows
are product dependent, whereby
some transactions require first the
counterparty confirmation action
before the Islamic bank sends out
Peter Bokma is chief of treasury and
investments at QIIB. The views expressed
are his own.
Visa sees growth in use
of mPOS among Qatar
merchants and SMEs
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
ost efficiency and other technological advancements are expected to drive growth in the use
of mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices
among merchants and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Qatar,
Visa country manager Rahul Joshi told
Gulf Times.
He said Qatar continues to witness a
major shift from traditional to electronic
payments, indicated by the 22% rise over
the previous year in POS transaction
value for the period ending September
30, 2014.
According to Joshi, merchants find
traditional POS setups cumbersome
compared to transactions made via
“Aside from mobility, the other advantages of mPOS is that the cost of
smartphones are getting lower, there are
no landline costs, and there are no hassles caused by power outages, especially
in developing countries,” said Joshi during a media roundtable discussion yesterday.
He noted that mPOS eliminates transaction hassles, especially in businesses
that require customers to pay in cash
such as taxis, home delivery (food, grocery, laundry, etc.), courier services, and
petrol stations, among others.
“Merchants who do not see any value from the traditional setup will find
mPOS more attractive not from a mobility point of view but because of low cost.
Cost is not a barrier and it is even
commercially viable for banks to put up
mPOS machines even when volume is
less making it beneficial to new startups,” Joshi stressed.
Joshi also said Qatar’s payment industry has a high potential for growth as
government services, retail, and supermarkets registered as the top categories
for domestic spend.
Using data from VisaNet recorded in
Rahul Joshi, Visa country manager for Qatar. PICTURE: Najeer Feroke
the third quarter of 2014, Joshi said debit
cards accounted for about three-fourths
of all Visa cards in circulation in Qatar,
indicating that the credit card business
in the country “still holds untapped potential.”
“In addition, one out of every three
dollars spent on a Visa credit card issued
in Qatar is spent internationally, a sign
of the growing share of travel expenses,
Doha Bank introduces debit card
acceptance for mobile commerce
oha Bank has introduced its latest
payments innovation, which gives
customers in Qatar the option of
paying on mobile websites using an ATM or
debit card.
“Doha Bank believes in delivering greater
value to the customer and with the support of the Qatar Central Bank, we are able
to offer a service that is unprecedented in
the country,” said Doha Bank head of Retail
Banking Suresh Bajpai.
According to Bajpai, customers can now
complete their mobile payments using their
debit cards.
The “first-of-its-kind initiative,” he
added, would allow debit cardholders of any
bank in Qatar to make purchases through
their smartphones and tablets.
“People are rapidly adopting smartphones and tablets as their preferred medium of accessing the Internet and making
payments, and we believe in serving them
through these channels,” he added.
Bajpai said debit cards issued by any bank
in Qatar are now accepted on the mobile
website of Doha Bank partner, Q-Tickets.
com, giving cinema-goers here more flexibility and convenience in booking tickets
theirs. The deed of sale versus an
acceptance response might be such
situation. On a general note the process
of detailing the requirements for the
complete treasury department must
at all times include the treasury back
office processes, and the financial
control department specific accounting
Further the desired process and the
security aspect of the bank must be
captured to ensure that the IT vendor
has a complete understanding of what
is needed.
This way all parties concerned will be
informed and expectations can be
valued clearly against the potential
outcomes without major surprises.
Doha Bank tower.
via smartphones and tablets. He noted that
while almost everyone has a debit card,
credit card penetration is low compared to
debit/ATM cards due to various eligibility
factors required to secure a credit card.
“We believe there is immense growth potential for these transactions. This service
gives people of all income brackets the ability to purchase their tickets online, conveniently from wherever they are.
This facility is also a great option for
merchants to accept payments from practically the entire country. We thank the Qatar
Central Bank for their vision and support
towards facilitating such an inclusive network,” Bajpai said.
From the Q-Tickets regular and mobile
websites, users can select their seats and
then choose a preferred payment option
such as credit card, Doha Bank account, or
debit card.
When choosing the debit card option,
customers are prompted to enter their debit
card details.
After the user enters his or her debit card
details, he or she will be directed to QCB’s
secure environment on QPay to complete
the transaction after entering the four-digit
“The debit card payment gateway is a
highly-secure platform and meets the safety standards regulated and mandated by the
Qatar Central Bank,” Bajpai said.
cross-border purchases, and e-Commerce volumes,” he said.
According to VisaNet data, cardholder
spending in Qatar was mainly directed
towards government services, retail, and
Retail also emerged as a top category in
international spending on Visa cards by
Qatar residents, accompanied by hotel
“Visa card usage in Qatar is growing at a consistent, promising pace, although cardholders in this market are
still largely skewed towards our debit
products. With international spending
on the rise, and a promising outlook for
e-Commerce in the region, we expect
Qatar to register strong growth in credit
card acceptance and use in the coming
years,” Joshi said.
Marafih takes on as Indosat
president commissioner
Dr Nasser Marafih has taken on the
role of president commissioner, PT
Indosat, an Ooredoo subsidiary,
following the appointment of a
number of board members to ministerial and other senior positions
in Qatar and Indonesia.
The changes to its boards of
commissioners and independent
directors were approved by PT
Indosat following the company’s
extraordinary general meeting
held recently.
As part of the changes, Ooredoo Group chairman HE Sheikh
Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud
al-Thani has resigned from the
role of President Commissioner of
Sheikh Abdullah was recently
appointed as the CEO of Qatar
Investment Authority.
Speaking about the changes,
Dr Nasser Marafih, Group CEO,
Ooredoo, said: “We have been
privileged to work with a Board of
Directors that has in-depth understanding of Indonesia’s evolving
telecommunications sector, and
unmatched insight the digital
needs of the Indonesian people.
Understandably, some of these
Board Members have now moved
into positions of high responsibility where they will continue to
serve their communities – both in
Qatar and in Indonesia. We accept
their resignations from the Board
with deep gratitude, and pay
tribute to their service.”
Ooredoo also said Rachmad Gobel has resigned as Indosat’s commissioner, due to his appointment
as the Minister of Trade, Republic
of Indonesia, and Rudiantara has
resigned as the company’s independent commissioner, following
his appointment as Indonesia’s
Minister of Communication and
The company also announced
the resignation of Rionald Silaban
as commissioner, following his
appointment as Executive Director
at the World Bank Group.
Moving ahead, the company
has announced a new board of
commissioners who will be in
place until the 2016 AGM, in
accordance with the Articles of
Association of the company.
Ahmed Yousef al-Derbesti,
Khalid Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, Chris
Kanter, Astera Primanto Bhakti,
Beny Roelyawan, and Cynthia
Gordon will all take on the role
of commissioner. Richard Seney,
Rinaldi Firmansyah, and Wijayanto
Samirin, have been named independent commissioners.
The company has also approved changes in the composition of the company’s Board of
Moving forward, the board
will be Alexander Rusli, president
director; Curt Stefan Carlsson,
director; Fadzri Sentosa, director;
Joy Wahjudi, director (and will also
assume the role of independent
director) and John Thompson,
“We are very confident that
our reconstituted boards will
live up to the high standards of
their predecessors and continue
to lead Indosat as the company
strives to enrich the lives of people across Indonesia,” Dr Marafih
CRICKET | Page 3
NBA | Page 8
FOOTBALL | Page 10
Amir reprieve
will encourage
others to come
clean: ICC
Pelicans snap
Atlanta’s win
streak at 19
Wolfsburg snap
up Schuerrle
in record
Bundesliga deal
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Rabia II 15, 1436 AH
Rosberg says he has
knives sharpened for
champ Hamilton
Page 5
French celebrate world handball title at home
(Left) French president Francois Hollande (third from left) holds the world handball trophy as French national handball team players and staff members look on a ceremony at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris yesterday. (Right) Hollande (centre)
displays a shirt with his name offered by French captain Jerome Fernandez (left) as French Handball federation president Joel Delplanque looks on. France won the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship in Doha on Sunday beating hosts Qatar
in the final. (AFP)
Teams carry out
for Qatar Rally
Al-Qassimi, Al-Rajhi look to challenge Qatari stranglehold
Local hero Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah has won the event 11 times.
By Sports Reporter
ally teams spent most of
yesterday in the desert taking a close look at the special stages that they will
tackle in this weekend’s QMMF Qatar International Rally, the opening
round of the 2015 FIA Middle East
Rally Championship.
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has laid on 12
timed desert sections to be staged on
Friday and Saturday after the ceremonial start on Doha Corniche tomorrow
Competitors took a look at the
tracks that will be used tomorrow first
of all and will complete their policed
reconnaissance of Saturday’s route on
Wednesday, before carrying out com-
pulsory administration checks at the
Qatari drivers have dominated the
traditional opening round of the regional rally series and have won the
event every year since 2002. Nasser
Saleh al-Attiyah has 11 home wins to
his name and Abdulaziz al-Kuwari
took a maiden victory in 2012.
Dubai’s Mohamed Ben Sulayem was
the last non-Qatari to climb on to the
top of the podium. The UAE driver
won the event on nine occasions between 1988 and 2002, but no other
international driver has managed to
break the Qatari stranglehold on local
success in the era of World and Regional Rally Cars
The Qatari deserts offer high-speed
special stages over rocky terrain, where
punctures are an inherent risk, and local knowledge is vital. Sections of some
of the stages are used in local national
rallies and Qatari drivers have gained
crucial experience over the years.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid
al-Qassimi and Saudi Arabian driver
Yazeed al-Rajhi have the ability to
match and beat the Qataris, but have
always fallen just short of the top step
of the podium in Doha. The pair were
third and fourth overall in 2014 and alQassimi finished as the runner-up in
2013 alongside co-driver Scott Martin.
Al-Qassimi has taken seven career
regional rally victories to al-Rajhi’s
four and a first triumph in Qatar cannot be too far away.
“I showed in Dakar that I have the
pace to match Nasser and we have
shown that on previous Middle East
rallies,” said al-Rajhi. “This is a difficult
rally to come and win. The stages are
never easy and the local drivers have a
lot of experience. It would be fantastic
to beat them and take the win.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Cucinotta sprints to
opening stage victory
‘Annalisa made a wonderful sprint, also thanks to the work done by the whole team. This is the victory of the whole team’
By Yash Mudgal
nnalisa Cucinotta of Ale-Cipollini won the opening stage
of the seventh Ladies Tour of
Qatar, beating two-time world
champion Giorgia Bronzini of WiggleHonda and Marta Tagliaferro of AleCipollini in the bunch sprint at Dukhan
Beach on a wind-free day yesterday.
Other than one solo breakaway move
that was brought back with 20 kilometers to go, the peloton rode together
for the entire 98.5km stage from Museum of Islamic Art to Dukhan Beach.
Cucinotta had the best finishing kick,
and claimed her first major victory
since 2008, when she won the Classica
Citta di Padova.
“I am really surprised with results as
we had a crash just before the second
sprint and I was in pain, but in the end
with the help of my teammates I managed to win the stage. I am very happy,”
the 28-year-old Cucinotta told Gulf
Times. “I don’t know what is in store
from me tomorrow, but I hope to perform better in next stages,” she said.
The stage was animated by a lone attack by Xiu Jie Jiang of China Chongming-Liv-Champion System, who
went clear shortly after the first intermediate sprint, which was won by
Shelley Olds of Bigla ahead of Chloe
Hosking and Lizzie Armitstead and
picked up the bonus seconds.
Jiang stretched her lead out to a
minute after 55kms but the pace remained a brisk 43kph in the peloton,
with several teams keen to ensure a
sprint finish.
Jiang held on long enough to claim
the points at the second intermediate
sprint with 30kms to go, but she was
caught immediately afterwards. Her
advantage went from at 61km, while
the pack was hit by several crashes,
one even forcing USA’s Maura Kinsella
(OPW) to retire.
Jiang went on to make it to the second
bonus sprint (km 68.5) clear from the
pack, before eventually being caught.
Meanwhile Olds had again outsprinted her peloton rivals, beating
Armitstead for precious extra seconds
that could count a great deal in the
group classification.
Claudia Cretti of Italy tried to forge
ahead in the finale but the sprinters’
teams coordinated their efforts to ensure the peloton stayed together. Cucinotta managed to hold off Bronzini to
finish half a bike length clear, followed
closely by teammate, Tagliaferro completing the podium at the third place.
“We are very satisfied. We are happy
not only for the first and third position, but also for all the work we have
done. We have been protagonist during the race. Annalisa made a wonderful sprint, also thanks to the work done
by the whole team. This is the victory of
the whole team,” said Ale-Cipollini di-
rector Fortunato Lacquaniti.
Cucinotta grabbed overall leader’s
golden jersey and points classification
silver, while another Ale-Cipollini rider Arianna Fidanza claimed the white
pearl jersey for the best young rider.
“It was a satisfying day and I think
anything is possible in the next couple
of days. It was not a wind day today and
hopefully I will perform better tomorrow,” Bronzini, who will race in silver
jersey in the second stage, said.
Double junior world road race champion British rider Lucy Garner, who
finished 14th, said: “I’m disappointed
with my performance today, especially
my sprint.”
Wiggle Honda’s Chloe Hosking – a
former stage winner -- was confident after finishing sixth in the general
classification.“It was not a perfect start
for us, but not a terrible one also. I was
very good at the first sprint and Bronzini finished overall second. It was good
for the team. I was disappointed there is
no win for us, but we are in a good position after the day one and it’s not all
over for us,” the Australian said.
The bonus seconds gained through
the stages will help determine the general classification, in which Olds sits
third, especially if the wind does not
blow hard across as forecasted.
“It’s the first race of the season and
it’s a race for sprinters. It’s a hard race
with all the best teams. I’m trying to
win the overall. I’d like to start the year
off with something positive,” Olds said.
Today, the 112.5km second stage will
run from Zubarah Fort to Madinat alShamal.
Annalisa Cucinotta of Ale-Cipollini celebrates her victory in the opening stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar yesterday. PICTURE: Yash Mudgal
Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) Ale-Cipollini
Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda
Shelley Olds-Evans (USA) Bigla Pro
Cycling Team 0:00:05
Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale Cipollini
Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:00:08
Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda
Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women
Cycling Team 0:00:10
Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM
Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Ale Cipollini
Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda
Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) Ale Cipollini 15
Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda 12
Shelley Olds-Evans (USA) Bigla Pro
Cycling Team 11
Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Ale Cipollini 9
Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women
Cycling Team 7
Trixi Worrack (Ger) Velocio-SRAM 5
Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Ale Cipollini 4
Xiu Jie Jiang (Chn) China ChongmingLiv-Champion System Pro Cycling 3
Jolien D’hoore (Bel) Wiggle Honda 3
(Left) Annalisa Cucinotta of Ale-Cipollini celebrates on the podium with QCF president Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Thani; (right) Ale-Cipollini rider Arianna Fidanza claimed
the white pearl jersey for the best young rider. PICTURES: Jayaram
Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 2
Shelley Olds (USA) Bigla Pro Cycling
Team 3pts
Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle Honda 2
Elisabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 1
Xiu Jie Jiang (Chn) China ChongmingLiv-Champion System Pro Cycling 3 pts
Shelley Olds - Evans (USA) Bigla Pro
Cycling Team 2
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Al Siddiqi Holding offers Qatar’s national dress to the French handball team
he French men’s handball team received a unique token of intercultural
friendship, when they were presented
with complete sets of elegant Qatari
national dress by Al Siddiqi Holding, through
its home-grown Qatari Men’s fashion brand
Al Shal.
The event was held at the Intercontinental the
City, Doha, to mark the end of the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship that took place in
Qatar in January 2015, in which the French team
emerged the winners. The Qatar national handball
team itself posted a historical performance in the
tournament, becoming the first-ever Asian team
to reach the final.
The French team members – both players and
support team composed of close to 30 people –
received the full set of traditional Qatari attire that
is composed of a Thob (long tunic), a Ghotra (local
head dress), a Serwal (traditional trouser), a Taqia
(skull-cap), and an Iqal (rope).
The attire was completely made to measure in
Qatar by Al Shal. Mahmood Almahmood, director of Al Shal, helped the players to dress up and
explained how each piece of the outfit should be
Mohamed al-Siddiqi, Al Siddiqi Holding board
member and managing director, said: “There is no
better way to promote intercultural understanding than giving our guests a chance to experience
our culture first-hand and take home a part of it.
We are delighted to offer the national dress to the
French delegation. Supporting such an amazing
team, where players have given their best to succeed, is the perfect illustration of our vision – ‘Believe, Achieve, and Succeed’.”
Al Siddiqi Holding has been an ‘Official Partner’ of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship. The Qatar-based multinational business, has given its full support to the Qatar 2015
Organising Committee by providing official
uniforms and traditional Qatari attire such as
thobes, abayas and shaylas for the team-members and volunteers of the mega sporting event,
that took place in Doha.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
‘Minnows can cause upsets at World Cup’
nternational Cricket Council (ICC) Chief
Executive David Richardson predicted
an open World Cup yesterday, saying the
associate members are well prepared to
upset major teams in the tournament.
Four second-tier nations—Afghanistan,
Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Scotland—will join the 10 full members for the
11th edition of the tournament from February 14 to March 29.
While Ireland stunned Pakistan and England at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups respectively, minnows Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh in their first win over a Test-playing
nation last year.
The ICC arranged a familiarisation tour
of Australia for them last year during which
they played matches against local sides to
gain much-needed experience of the conditions Down Under.
The governing body also appointed Dav
Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to their
1996 World Cup win, to help the four minnows prepare for the tournament in Australia
and New Zealand.
“The associates and the way they are prepared for this tournament, any other country
will be silly to take them lightly,” Richardson
said in a telephone interview.
“If they do, there’s a real chance of an upset being caused. They will be the underdogs
in most of the matches but a surprise or two
can impact the group standings.
“If you are South Africa, they will want to
make sure they finish top of the group because they would want to avoid a difficult
quarter final. Any upset will have profound
effect on the tournament,” added the former
Proteas stumper-batsman.
The 14 teams have been divided into two
groups for the World Cup with four teams from
each pool advancing to the knock-out stages.
The 55-year-old Richardson is confident the
upcoming tournament would eclipse all the
earlier editions and the new playing conditions
would further lift the standard of the game.
Two new balls and an extra fielder inside
the circle during the nonpowerplay overs
will be used for the first time in a World Cup
which, Richardson hopes, will also encourage attacking cricket.
“The use of two new balls will give the
seam bowlers a chance and the fielding restrictions changed the one-day game quite
considerably,” said Richardson.
“It’s much more attacking and there are
many more boundaries scored.
“The old days of trying to contain batsmen
and bowl dot balls is becoming very difficult
and the only way of containing scoring is
to attack and try and get wickets. So we are
seeing a far less of those predictable games
where it follows a pattern.”
It also means there were no clear favourites this time for Richardson.
“What is great about this event is that
probably for the first time ever, with due respect to the other teams, at least six of the
teams realistically have a chance of winning
the tournament,” he said.
“That’s never been the case. There have
always been one or two really strong favourites going into the event. Yes there have been
surprises from time to time but in this case
on their day any of the teams can beat any
other team.”
Afghanistan players celebrate after winning the qualifying tournament for the 2015 ICC World Cup. The team from the war-torn country is among the
four second-tier sides besides Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Scotland, who will join the 10 full members for the 11th edition of the tournament.
Amir reprieve will
encourage others
to come clean: ICC
‘There’s an incentive to players that if you have messed up there’s a way back. Don’t forget that
Amir would have been out of international cricket for five years. That’s more than half a career’
he reprieve given to Pakistan bowler Mohamed
Amir in a spot-fixing scandal will encourage corrupt players to come clean and help maintain the
game’s integrity, International Cricket Council
(ICC) Chief Executive David Richardson said yesterday.
Amir and his former teammates Salman Butt and Mohamed Asif were all banned for spot-fixing, particularly
for bowling deliberate no-balls by pre-arrangement at
Lord’s, during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010.
The trio served jail sentences in Britain and were given
minimum five-year bans by an ICC tribunal.
Amir’s five-year ban was scheduled to expire on September 2 but ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACSU) chairman Ronnie Flanagan exercised his discretion to allow
him to return to domestic cricket with immediate effect.
“There’s an incentive to players that if you have messed
up there’s a way back,” Richardson said.
“Don’t forget that Amir would have been out of international cricket for five years. That’s more than half
a career. Most players don’t even get to play five years
at international level,” said the former South Africa
Left-arm bowler Amir was marked as a great prospect for Pakistan in his early days and at the age of 18 he
became the youngest bowler to capture 50 Test wickets
during the controversial Test match at Lord’s in 2010.
According to a revised anti-corruption code, a banned
player can appeal to resume playing domestic cricket before the end of the ban.
“Not withstanding what he did, no one suggests that
we should be tolerant or be lax on players who get involved in these type of things,” the 55-year-old Richardson said.
“But in his case, he admitted his involvement and since
then he’s made every effort to disclose everything that
he knows to help the ACSU with their education programmes. Therefore, I think he served as a good example
to players who might have got involved in the past, regret
what they have done and there’s a way for them to come
back in due course.”
and career,” Associates’ chief Nadeem
Omar said yesterday.
The Anti-Corruption and Security
Unit of the International Cricket Council
(ICC) last week cleared Amir to play
domestic cricket in Pakistan with immediate effect.
The decision followed last year’s ruling that allowed all banned players to
return to first-class cricket a few months
before their ban expires.
The ICC banned Amir along with
orld Cup hosts
Australia may have
only 13 players to
choose their playing XI from for their February
14 tournament opener against
England after scans revealed
all-rounder James Faulkner
has suffered a side strain.
Faulkner’s injury is a fresh
blow to Australia, following
hamstring injury to regular
skipper Michael Clarke who
is racing against time to be fit
after undergoing surgery in
Faulkner blasted a 24-ball
50 in Australia’s emphatic victory in the final of the tri-series
against England but also suffered the injury while bowling
in Sunday’s match at Perth.
“Scans on James Faulkner’s
injured side have confirmed
a moderate grade abdominal
muscle strain which is consistent with a ‘typical’ fast-bowing side strain injury,” Cricket
Australia physiotherapist Alex
Kountouris said.
“He will receive intensive
treatment for the next two
weeks before we can determine when he can return to
batting and bowling.”
The 24-year-old will travel
with the Australia squad to Adelaide on Friday to continue his
treatment with medical staff.
Clarke, who returned to club
cricket on Saturday, has been
given until Australia’s second World Cup match against
Bangladesh on February 21 to
prove he is fit to play a part in
the tournament.
Kohli already a batting legend: Richards
Pakistan paceman Mohamed Amir is
set to return to domestic cricket next
month with a Grade-II team in Karachi,
an official said yesterday, following the
relaxation of a fixing ban.
The 22-year-old left-armer will play for
Omar Associates in the Patron’s Trophy
Grade-II national tournament—one rung
below first-class—that begins March 9.
“We have signed Amir to play for our
team in the Grade-II as we think that everybody deserves a second chance in life
Faulkner injury
complicates Oz
World Cup start
Salman Butt and Mohamead Asif for
five years over a spot-fixing case in
England in 2010.
The trio were convicted of taking
money in return for bowling deliberate
no-balls during the Lord’s Test against
England in August that year.
All three players along with their
agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed in
Britain a year later.
Omar said Amir has fulfilled all obligations as per the ICC rules.
“We have signed Amir because he has
fulfilled everything which was required
of him and the ICC and the Pakistan
Cricket Board cleared him,” he said.
“He is a very good talent and can be
used as an ambassador of morality in
the future.”
The PCB said Amir would be monitored on and off the field for the next few
months before being cleared to play international cricket once his ban expires
in September this year.
Mumbai: Caribbean cricket legend Vivian Richards yesterday
heaped praise on Indian vice captain Virat Kohli, saying he has
already become a batting legend in ODIs.
Richards, who was an integral memer of the West Indies’
World Cup-winning squad in 1975 and 1979, also listed Kohli in
his list of top 10 ODI batsmen in the world.
Richards, considered the most fearsome batsman in the
1980s, put Sachin Tendulkar at the summit spot, followed by
compatriots Brian Lara, Chris Gayle, Clive Lloyd, Australians
Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, India’s Virender Sehwag, Australia’s Michael Hussey, South Afrtica’s AB de Villiers and Kohli.
“The last name on my list, but not the least by any means, is
young Virat Kohli. There might be some surprise regarding this
pick because he is very young and has a lot of cricket to play
still. But in my eyes, he is already legendary,” Richards said.
Kohli has scored 6,232 runs in 150 matches, helping himself to
21 hundreds. “At such a young age he has twice the number of
ODI centuries than in Tests and he is such a confident player in
the limited-overs game. It is not to say he isn’t so in the longer format, but I really like his aggressive style in ODI cricket,” Richards
said of the Indian who has recorded 30 fifties, averaging 51.50.
Talking about the 26-year-old’s rise in world cricket, Richards
also hoped the Indian Test captain would get better in the future. “Look at the way he started his career, and the batsman he
has already become today, he is simply magnificent in whatever
little time he has played as compared to others. He is only going
to get better and better, and add to his list of achievements.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Williamson, Taylor hit
tons in Kiwis’ 119-run
victory over Pakistan
‘We have got to be happy with where we are at. We have played, I guess, a couple of perfect
games. The challenge for us now is to maintain that freshness and momentum we’ve built up’
Kane Williamson (left)
celebrates his century with
teammate Ross Taylor in
yesterday’s second ODI
against Pakistan at McLean
Park in Napier. (AFP)
Emotions to
run high for
Indo-Pak tie
in Adelaide
New Delhi
ricket is just a game,
but try telling that to
the 22 players who
will walk out for the
India v Pakistan World Cup
match in Adelaide on Feb 15.
The Pool B contest was sold
out in 20 minutes and
no other team in world sport
will be under as much pressure
as the two that day with 1.3
billion unforgiving cricket-crazy fans following the contest
ball by ball.
Emotions run high every
time the south Asian neighbours, who have fought
three wars since independence and share frosty relations over the Kashmir region
they both claim, clash on a
cricket ground.
Pakistan, champions in
1992, have never beaten twice
winners India at a World Cup.
Many of their fans would
not mind their team crashing
out from the World Cup early,
providing they beat their
“For many, it’s bigger than
World Cup. It completely
locks out 1.3 billion people.
The tension is unbearable
and the players’ effort
level doubles. We could
never beat India in World
Cup but, God willing, that
would soon happen”
ew Zealand flayed Pakistan’s
attack on the way to a crushing 119-run win during the
second one-day international
in Napier yesterday.
The win means the Black Caps take
the series 2-0 and maintain momentum ahead of this month’s World Cup,
while Pakistan look in disarray after
two poor displays.
The New Zealanders ran riot after
winning the toss and electing to bat,
ending their innings at 369 for five, their
highest ever score against Pakistan.
Kane Williamson top-scored with 112,
Ross Taylor finished 102 not out with
a boundary off the last ball and opener
Martin Guptill also contributed 76.
In contrast, Pakistan medium pacer Bilawal Bhatti recorded the worst
bowling figures in the country’s ODI
history, leaking 93 runs off his ten overs
without taking a wicket.
Bhatti was far from the only underperformer and captain Misbah ul-Haq
said his team needed to make huge improvements for the World Cup.
“We’re nowhere near our best. We
need to improve a lot in virtually everything, we need to improve our batting
and bowling, and especially the death
bowling,” he said.
His New Zealand counterpart Brendon McCullum was thrilled at his side’s
form ahead of the tournament, where
they are looming as a dark horse.
“We’ve got to be happy with where
we’re at,” he said. “We’ve played, I guess,
a couple of perfect games. The challenge
for us now is to maintain that freshness
and momentum we’ve built up.”
The 369 total was the Black Caps’
fifth highest in one-day history, surpassed only by scores against secondtier nations Zimbabwe and Canada.
Pakistan’s batsmen could only
manage 250 in reply before they were
bowled out in 43.1 overs, although they
were chasing the game after a dismal
bowling effort.
Only Wahab Riaz in 2013 has conceded as many runs as Bhatti in 10
overs, but he at least took two wickets
against South Africa.
Ehsan Adil fared little better against
the New Zealanders, taking one wicket
but going for 8.5 an over.
Mohamed Irfan was the sole bowler
who appeared remotely threatening,
finishing with two for 52.
With Pakistan’s frontline attack failing, captain ul-Haq was forced to call
on his part-timers.
But Younis Khan, Haris Sohail and
Ahmed Shehzad had no answers, taking only one wicket between them at
the cost of 93 runs.
McCullum set the tone for the hosts
with a typically aggressive cameo of 31
before Guptill and Williamson brought
up New Zealand’s 100 off 18.2 overs.
They both cruised to half centuries,
with New Zealand on 152 at the halfway mark. Williamson stepped on the
gas after Guptill was dismissed for 76,
moving from 63 to 100 in the space of
eight overs.
The 24-year old finally fell for 112 to
Irfan but Ross Taylor then stepped in to
club a 70-ball century in his 150th oneday international, smashing Bhatti
onto the roof of the stands.
Taylor appeared in danger of remaining stranded in the 90s in the final
over, but a six and a four in the final two
balls took him to 102.
Pakistan’s openers Mohamed Hafeez
and Shehzad made an excellent start
chasing down the mammoth total,
New Zealand
M Guptill c Bhatti b Shehzad ... 76
B McCullum b Afridi ..................... 31
K Williamson c Sohail b Irfan... 112
R Taylor (not out) .......................... 102
G Elliott c Sohail b Adil................ 28
L Ronchi c Ahmed b Irfan ......... 0
N McCullum (not out) ................. 9
Extras (w5, lb6).............................. 11
Total (5 wickets, 50 overs) ....... 369
Fall of wickets: 1-43 (B McCullum), 2-171 (Guptill), 3-250
(Williamson), 4-322 (Elliott),
5-340 (Ronchi)
Bowling: Irfan 10-0-52-2, Bhatti
10-0-93-0, Afridi 10-0-57-1, Adil
8-0-68-1, Sohail 6-0-47-0, Khan
2-0-17-0, Shehzad 4-0-29-1
M Hafeez c Milne b Elliott ......... 86
A Shehzad c Milne b McCullum 55
notching half-centuries at a little over
a run a ball. Shehzad went for 52 dancing down the wicket to attack spinner
Nathan McCullum but holing out to the
man on the boundary.
Younis Khan could only manage 11
Y Khan c Southee b McCullum 11
M-ul-Haq c Taylor b Southee ... 45
S Afridi c Elliott b Vettori ........... 11
U Akmal b Milne............................. 4
H Sohail c B McCullum b Milne 6
S Ahmed b McCullum b Elliott 13
B Bhatti c Guptill b Southee ..... 9
E Adil c Ronchi b Boult ............... 1
M Irfan (not out) ............................ 0
Extras (w6, lb2, nb1) .................... 9
Total (all out, 43.1 overs) ........... 250
Fall of wickets: 1-111 (Shehzad),
2-130 (Khan), 3-173 (Hafeez),
4-187 (Afridi), 5-194 (Akmal),
6-206 (Sohail), 7-227 (Ahmed),
8-248 (Bhatti), 9-250 (ul-Haq),
10-250 (Adil)
Bowling: Southee 8-0-52-2, Boult
8.1-0-35-1, Vettori 10-0-41-1, Milne
8-0-52-2, N.McCullum 5-0-33-2,
Elliott 4-0-35-2
as the run rate steadily crept higher,
reaching almost 9.6 at the half-way
mark. Hafeez (86) and dangerman Shahid Afridi (11) both went as they lashed
out trying to lift the pace and when
Misbah departed on 45, it was all over.
The rivalry assuming the
Orwellian concept of serious
sport - war minus shooting.
“For many, it’s bigger than
World Cup,” former Pakistan
speedster Shoaib Akhtar told
a cricket conclave in Delhi on
“It completely locks out 1.3
billion people. The tension is
unbearable and the players’
effort level doubles.
“We could never beat India
in World Cup but, God willing,
that would soon happen,”
said the quick known as the
‘Rawalpindi Express’.
A veteran of many such
contests, Harbhajan Singh was
part of the eventual champion Indian team who beat
Pakistan in the 2011 semi-final
at Mohali, a contest that gave
him sleepless nights.
“The dressing room atmosphere is always tense,” said
the feisty off-spinner who
could not make the cut for this
year’s World Cup.
“Much before the dressing
room, you think about it in
your hotel room. Before last
World Cup’s match in Mohali,
I could not sleep the night before, thinking what if we lose.
“Fortunately we won the
next day and again I could not
sleep, this time because I was
so overjoyed. A defeat against
Pakistan means media would
roast us and fans would pelt
stones at our house,” said the
His teammate from the 2011
squad, Piyush Chawla, said the
pressure does not come from
the team management.
“It comes from elsewhere.
Even family members and
friends remind us it’s a match
against Pakistan,” said the
26-year-old leg-spinner.
“Fielding in the deep, you
often hear the crowd behind
warning you ‘better win this
match or it won’t be easy to
get out of the stadium’.”
Rock star Sohail gives Pak mountain of muscle
rom throwing rocks down
mountains and training by
swimming across rivers and
streams in Pakistan’s troubled
north-west, unheralded pace bowler
Sohail Khan has come a long way.
The 30-year-old was a surprise inclusion in Pakistan’s 15-man squad for
the World Cup as he was not considered amongst the favourites until the
morning of the announcement.
But former Pakistan captain Rashid
Latif described Khan as “gate crashing”
his way into contention after a string of
impressive performances in domestic
“He has gate-crashed into the World
Cup squad,” said Latif, credited for
grooming the raw talent of Khan in his
domestic team, Port Qasim.
“His recent performances forced the
selectors to give him a chance and I am
confident he will make his mark in the
World Cup.”
Khan took 64 wickets in Pakistan’s
domestic season last year and got 10
wickets in a one-day event—an impressive show which forced him into
the World Cup squad at the expense of
unfit Umar Gul. But it hasn’t been an
easy ride for the well-built Khan.
As a youngster, dreaming of making
a name for himself, Khan used to throw
stones down the hills in Malakand
agency—the mountainous tribal area
in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province—to
build muscle to bowl fast.
Deprived of basic cricket facilities,
Khan initially played with a tennis ball.
“I grew up with a desire to make my
in a talent hunt programme before he
landed in the safe hands of Latif who
honed the tribal talent in his academy.
“I never got disheartened. I am
now in the World Cup and want
to make an impression, be it Virat
Kohli (of India) or (Australia’s)
David Warner, I want to bowl fast
and take wickets for my team”
name in cricket,” Khan says.
“We did not have any facility to play
the game like a ground or a gym so
someone told me that if I throw stones
over a distance I could build my mus-
cle to bowl fast.” Routine swims in the
streams and rivers in the tribal area
helped further build the body.
A relative then told Khan to try his
luck in Karachi where he was spotted
“I owe a great deal to Latif,” said
Khan. “He told me how to use the new
ball and how to use different tricks as a
fast bowler. What I am today is because
of him.”
Playing for Sui Southern Gas Corporation, Khan took an astonishing
65 wickets in his debut first-class
season in 2007, with eight five-wicket hauls.
If that was not enough he recorded
the best match figures in a first-class
game in Pakistan with 16-189, which
broke the long-standing record of
Fazal Mahmood who once took 15-76.
That was enough to give Khan a place
in the national team in the one-day series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh
at home in 2008.
A return of four wickets in three
matches wasn’t enough to cement his
place and in the next three years he
managed to play three more one-dayers, two Tests and three Twenty20s,
the last in Zimbabwe in 2011.
It seemed he would be lost to the
game, but Khan’s hard work finally
paid off. “I never got disheartened,”
said Khan. “I am now in the World Cup
and want to make an impression, be it
Virat Kohli (of India) or (Australia’s)
David Warner, I want to bowl fast and
take wickets for my team.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
McLaren bogged
down by car trouble
Rosberg says he has
knives sharpened
for champ Hamilton
‘I had no expectations. I definitely didn’t think we would go out and pound around.
Even the car that won the world championship had a problem second day in’
ico Rosberg (above)
says he has sharpened
his knives for the new
Formula One season
and is ready to take on champion
Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and anyone else who fancies
their title chances.
The German, runner-up last
year as Hamilton collected his
second crown, told the official website that he felt
stronger than ever and was sure
the new Mercedes was better.
Asked whether he already had
his metaphorical knives “sharpened” for the season, Rosberg
said he had started doing that as
soon as the last campaign ended
in Abu Dhabi.
“For now it is Lewis—and whoever else wants to have a go at the
knife,” he added with a laugh when
asked about the main target.
The two Mercedes teammates,
who have known and raced against
each other from boyhood, had a
tense relationship last season as
they battled for the title.
Rosberg expected more of the
same. “We have a relationship
that goes up and down—and it
will continue to go up and down,”
he said. “It is an intense battle between us and that will not
change any time soon.
“Last year’s experience helps,”
he added of this year’s challenge.
“It’s that ‘been there, done that’
kind of thing. All the difficult
times have made me stronger. It
is the difficult moments where I
learn the most.”
The German said Hamilton,
who won 11 races last year to
Rosberg’s five, had simply performed better in 2014.
“He drove better all in all. Small
bits here and there—and I need to
find small steps to beat him. And I
am going for it,” he said.
Mercedes will start the season
in Australia on March 15 as clear
favourites again and the new car
has looked strong in testing in
southern Spain, although Hamilton was stopped by a water leak
on Monday.
Rosberg did almost 700km
and 157 laps on the first day at the
Jerez circuit, far more than rivals,
and said the car was “even better
than last year’s”.
His dream year, he said, would
be a great start followed by “a
tough part by mid-season when
I lose touch—and then an awesome comeback in the end, winning all the races to total dominance.”
Bernie Ecclestone hopes German Grand Prix
decision will be made by weekend
McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain sits in his car as he is pushed by members of his team during pre-season testing at the Jerez racetrack in southern Spain.
The Guardian
cLaren’s Ron Dennis wants
one of the most notorious
scandals in the history of
Formula One, which almost
resulted in his team being kicked out of
the sport, consigned to the musty pages
of history.
Dennis, McLaren’s chairman and chief
executive, made his plea as he welcomed
Fernando Alonso back to the team. Alonso
and Lewis Hamilton were the McLaren
drivers in 2007 when the team were fined
$100mn, a record for any sport, after a
780-page document containing confidential technical information about Ferrari’s car was found in the possession of
McLaren’s chief designer, Mike Coughlan.
Dennis and Alonso had a difficult relationship. In November 2007 the Spaniard
left McLaren after one season and returned to Renault for the 2008 campaign.
“It [the scandal] could be dissected
in lots of ways but it is the past,” Dennis
said. “The whole thing took on a mo-
mentum and was very controversial for
the whole sport. It was heavily amplified
and everyone got pretty bruised by it.
But everyone has moved on. I am mellower, Fernando has matured and there
are other people who were involved. To
go back into it would be a waste of time.
Actions speak louder than words and we
need to get on with racing and enjoy the
Dennis, 67, who is the most successful
team chief in the history of F1, added: “It
is not so much pragmatic, as do we need
to feel angst over this any more? Or do we
want to get on with enjoying motor racing? One of the best things about Fernando is that he loves his motor racing. If
you go back to Ayrton [Senna], he hated
the politics and the controversy, even
the controversy he sometimes caused.
He retired two or three times behind the
scenes because he was frustrated with
things he didn’t like. Why should we keep
going back to something that isn’t positive? We are looking for a positive way
Dennis denied that Alonso demanded
No1 status in his return to McLaren. “He
never asked for a single thing to be inserted into his contract,” he said.
McLaren are attempting to move on off
the track but they have plenty of problems on it following their reunion with
the engine suppliers Honda. On Monday
Jenson Button completed only six laps
in the MP4-30 and his lap time was 33
seconds slower than the fastest man, Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari. On Sunday,
the first day of testing, Alonso, Button’s
teammate, also managed six laps.
Button said: “I had no expectations.
I definitely didn’t think we would go
out and pound around. Even the car
that won the world championship had
a problem second day in. It’s a very
complex power unit. We have our head
around it and understand the issue, so
we’re hoping for much more productive
day three and day four.”
In the morning Button did five laps. He
did come out again in the afternoon but
the engine still did not sound right and he
returned to the pits after one lap.
Vettel, who topped the timings on the
opening day, was once again the quickest
driver in Monday morning’s run, string-
ing together a number of fast laps on his
medium tyres and, when he returned to
the track later in the morning, he cut almost a second off his best time.
It is track time not speed that is most
important at this stage of the F1 pre-season
and Mercedes were again mightily impressive here in his first run of the week.
Hamilton was a second and a half
slower than Vettel but much more relevant were the 73 laps hammered out
by the champion in the morning. He
came out again in the afternoon, which
was hampered by rain, and took his total laps for the day to 91, two more than
Vettel and three more than Felipe Nasr
in his Sauber.
Hamilton said: “I got in a good amount
of laps. I got a good feel for the car. The
car is the worst it will be this year – the
balance wasn’t perfect because we
weren’t working on set-up – so it could
be better. We got good mileage and we
should do tomorrow.”
The Red Bull car made its debut in disguise, with black and white squiggles covering the bodywork in an attempt to conceal the changes they have made for 2015.
The German Grand Prix is once
again fighting for survival, with
Formula One’s chief executive
Bernie Ecclestone declaring
that a decision on this year’s
event in July will be made by
the weekend.
The failure of the event in
Germany is a mystery given
the country has in Mercedes
the dominant team in modern F1 and two of the leading
drivers of the current era in
Nico Rosberg and Sebastian
Vettel. Then, of course, there
is Michael Schumacher, the
most successful driver in the
history of the sport with seven
world championships and 91 GP
But at Hockenheim last year
there were just 52,000 spectators on race day, with only
45,000 at The Nurburgring the
year before.
“I am sorry that there will
not be a Formula One race in
Germany,” Ecclestone told the
Rhein-Zeitung newspaper on
Monday. “It is just a case that as
the attendance has been so low
for the last few years that it is
not commercially viable for the
promoters in Germany.
“We’re trying to rescue it, but I
can’t guarantee we will.”
Raikkonen continues
fast start for Ferrari
McIlroy’s lawyers in talks with
former agents to settle dispute
opes were rising yesterday that world number
one Rory McIlroy might
be spared a protracted
court battle with his former management company ahead of the
US Masters in April as proceedings were twice deferred at Dublin’s High Court.
Northern Irish star McIlroy’s
senior counsel, Paul Gallagher,
saying “the parties are making
McIlroy now needs just the
Masters to become only the sixth
golfer in history, and the first
from the British Isles, to win all
of golf’s four major titles—British Open, US Open, US Masters
and US PGA.
However, there are concerns
that McIlroy, who won the Du-
Rory McIlroy (centre) arrives at the High Court in Dublin.
bai Desert Classic last weekend,
could be distracted in his Masters preparations by what he
himself admitted was “not a nice
McIlroy is both suing Conor
Ridge’s Horizon Sports Management company and being
counter-sued over the terms of
an agreement he struck with the
firm in 2011.
The deal, which was renegotiated in 2013, was to last until
2017, with Horizon receiving
commission on the golfer’s financial dealings.
McIlroy has taken action over
over £4.2million (5.6million euros, $6.3million) in fees to Horizon from his earnings on and off
the course.
Horizon, meanwhile have argued they have a contract with
McIlroy entitling them to a share
of his endorsement earnings until 2017.
McIlroy terminated his contract with Horizon in September
2013, forming his own company
to manage his affairs, Rory McIlroy Inc.
He argued the terms of his
deal were vastly inferior to those
signed by other golfers at Horizon, including fellow countryman and major winner Graeme
He claims Horizon charged
almost four times what top ten
golfers pay to agents.
McIlroy was with Horizon
when he signed a sponsorship
deal with equipment manufacturers Nike in early 2013, said
to be worth $100 million over
five years, and also signed other
high-worth deals.
On the course, he won the
2011 US Open, the 2012 US PGA
and became world number one
for the first time in his career.
Four-time major winner
McIlroy did not talk to reporters
as he arrived at court dressed in
a a dark navy suit and wearing
But before his success in
Dubai, McIlroy said the legal dispute was not something
he would “want anyone to go
“It’s not a nice process. It’s a
shame it’s went this far but it’s
hard when two sides see things
completely differently,” he said.
“The only way to sort it out is
to get a judge to come in and tell
us what to do.”
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland during pre-season testing.
imi Raikkonen followed
new Ferrari teammate
Sebastian Vettel’s lead
as he went fastest early
on in day three of pre-season
testing in Jerez yesterday.
The Finn was the last man
to deliver a world title for the
Italian giants back in 2007 and
hopes will be rising in Maranello
ahead of the new season after the
new SF15-T went fastest for the
third consecutive day.
Raikkonen was almost four
seconds down on the fastest time
set by Vettel on Monday, but his
best of 1min 24.074 in 44 laps
still led the field.
Double world champions
Mercedes continued to lead the
way in mileage as Nico Rosberg
racked up 93 laps to add to his
world record 157 lap effort on day
However, it wasn’t all plain
sailing for the German as his
W08 had to be towed back to
the garage after stopping on the
track shortly before lunch.
McLaren-Honda may have
been the happiest team yesterday, though, as after a difficult
first couple of days in which
Fernando Alonso and Jenson
Button managed just six laps
apiece, Alonso was able to log 32
laps, albeit at the slowest pace on
the grid over 11 seconds back on
Rookies Felipe Nasr and Carlos Sainz also got some valuable
time in their respective Sauber
and Toro Rosso cars.
Nasr, who was second fastest
on Monday, had to settle for third
behind Raikkonen and Rosberg
on his 38 laps.
Meanwhile, Sainz gave the
Spanish fans more to see than
the home hero Alonso as he
completed over 50 laps in going
fourth fastest.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Legacy of Asian
Cup will endure
Even seemingly dispassionate ‘neutrals’ flocked to the stands
By Richard Parkin
I have long dreamed of a football
event this big coming to Australian shores.” Thus spake the man
dubbed by Frank Lowy as “the face
of the Asian Cup”, and while there may
have been no sign of the Captain Ambassador Lucas Neill come tournament’s
start, by anyone’s measure the 2015 Asian
Cup has been a phenomenal success.
With 500 days to go to the tournament,
the CEO of the Local Organising Committee, Michael Brown, spoke effusively
of the high hopes for ticket sales, and of
the rising interest among the broader
public. With twinkling eyes, showing
glimpses of both snake oil peddler and
barely-concealed terror, he spoke of a
dream of selling half a million tickets.
Half a million tickets – for North Korea
v Uzbekistan; for Qatar v Bahrain; for
Oman v Kuwait? In Newcastle?
As a sports-obsessed nation continued
to seem nonplussed, organisers rolled out
Socceroos icon Rale Rasic, press-ganged
a grimacing HG Nelson for its ads, and
threw good money after bad at Alessandro Del Piero. A man who spent two decades plying his trade in one of Europe’s
top leagues was always a bizarre choice of
figurehead for Asia’s pre-eminent tournament – but one that betrayed a fear of
failure and a desire to seduce the ‘swinging voter’ of the notoriously fickle Sydney sports market.
And whilst the gimmicks rang hollow,
the football rang true. 649,705 people
flooded through the turnstiles – at an
average of 20,303 per game. Refer to the
census and officially only 69 North Korean nationals call Australia home. But
amid torrential rain more than 12,000
came to watch the reclusive nation’s debut against Uzbekistan. Newcastle discovered a hidden Palestinian community,
and from Brisbane to Melbourne the fans
of Iran’s Team Melli set a tremendous bar
for noise, colour and pageantry.
Not only did diverse ethnic communities wholeheartedly embrace the tournament, but seemingly dispassionate “neutrals” flocked to the stands.
Then there was the football. Fierce
rivals Iran and Iraq played one of the
all-time great finals matches, steeped in
drama, goals and passion; all of this then
topped with Younus Mahmood’s brazen
panenka . Palestine scored their first ever
goal at a major tournament, Tim Cahill’s
spectacular bicycle kick broke the hearts
of the world’s most populous nation, and
then of course – there was that final.
Such is the commercial pressure in
world sport these days, major tournaments often come with a sickening sales
effort, manufacturing and spreading a
maudlin sentimentality.
But for every “China adopts Aussie
ballboy” media sensation, there were
countless tales of genuine inspiration –
the football federation boss and the remarkable trip for fifty Iraqi women , the
stories of Palestinian fans Mohammad
Othman and Zaid Jubran, and the Iranian women who defied their government
with their message of protest . For one
month, the stories and cultures of West
and East Asia flooded the Australian consciousness.
For Aussie kids raised on the “blood
and thunder” version of sporting hero,
there is now a new household name. With
In this photo taken on January 31, Australia’s Tim Cahill holds the Asian Cup after the final against South Korea in Sydney. Cahill was
one of the heroes of Australia’s victorious campaign.
English Premier League idols and Serie A
greats on display, who would have ever
expected that the star of the tournament
and name on everybody’s lips would be
that of the slightly-framed Emirate genius, Omar Abdulrahman?
For a nation that too often buys into
clichés of West Asian players as divers
and time-wasters, to recognise such a
gifted player for the talents he possesses
is a telling shift in the collective psyche.
As I walked into my local pub to watch
Japan v Palestine, I pass two men, both
“anglo” and in their 50s, poring over a
map on a mobile phone. For half a century
it wasn’t a question that had stirred them,
but now they were as eager as schoolboys
to find out exactly where Uzbekistan was.
For so long perceived a backwater of
the world, in an era of such increasing
globalisation it is no longer possible to
deny Australia’s geographical location.
If, as Paul Keating alleges, the Menzies
era “sunk a generation of Australians in
Anglophilia and torpor” than through
events such as this, many are beginning
to accept that our nation’s future does in
fact lie with the 4.4 billion souls of this
expansive and diverse continent. Yes,
the machinations and even prejudices of
some (now fallen) state governments may
have meant that many, especially in the
key cultural hub of Melbourne, had only
limited exposure to the magic of the cup;
while the tyranny of distance robbed fans
from Adelaide or Perth of the opportunity to share in the spectacle first hand.
But in Sydney, home to the corridors
of power of Football Federation Australia
and its apparatchiks, one senses strongly
that irrevocable and durable ties have
been forged between a once distant island continent and it’s northern neighbours. Not only have Australians learned
more about the continent of Asia, but
conversely Asia has learned more about
Whilst hundreds of millions of Chinese viewers may not have been treated
to the dulcet stylings of Andy Harper,
they were exposed to some quality football, seamless organisation, and impressive facilities. Let’s all just agree to forget
the Brisbane pitch.
In 1994, hosting the World Cup put
football (or soccer) on the map in the
United States. An average attendance of
68,991 witnessed the heroics of Hristo
Stoichkov, the mercurial Gheorghe Hagi,
and of course, the Divine Ponytail’s infamous penalty miss. Not bad for a country that didn’t even have a professional
league. Today, 30 per cent of households
in America boast at least one soccer player – a rate only bested by baseball – as the
round ball game continues to grow.
Co-hosting the 2002 World Cup saw
Japan and Korea invest over $7.6 billion
into new stadia and infrastructure, with
one report citing an economic return of
$33 billion for the two countries. If these
figures are debatable, less so is the 15%
increase in attendance that followed over
the next two seasons of the J-League.
The economic and geo-political benefits of the Asian Cup may be hard to
quantify; but for millions of casual viewers, the Asian Cup has entrenched a new
image not just of Australia, but also of
football in this country. This win validates the footballing philosophy of coach
Ange Postecoglou, his mandate for renewal, and his policy of selecting technically gifted, possession-seeking players.
It shows the Asian continent that
football is Australia is only increasing in
quality, that our league deserves respect,
our players are worth courting, and that
far from being a peripheral nation, our
quest to improve as a footballing power is
inextricably bound with Asia’s own.
FFA may have missed an opportunity
yesterday to bring our league into closer
alignment with those of Asia, through
a “4+1” foreign visa spot initiative, but
already through signings such as Yusuke
Tanaka, Yojiro Takahagi, and Lee Ki-je
clubs are showing a willingness to turn
to Asia.
The legacy of the Asian Cup may not always be directly palpable, but in the minds
and hearts of many a profound shift has
occurred. Ten years after our entry into
the Asian Confederation, Australia has finally held its housewarming party.
BBC to lose live Open
coverage to Sky
Sports from 2017
ive coverage of The British Open will disappear
from the BBC from 2017
after the Royal & Ancient
(R&A) announced yesterday that
a deal had been struck with paychannel Sky Sports.
Sky will have exclusive live
rights for the major championship from 2017-21, with the BBC
screening a daily two-hour prime
time highlights show and continuing its live radio coverage, the
R&A said in a statement.
The Open, like the Wimbledon
tennis championships, has long
been regarded as one of the ‘crown
jewels’ of British televised sport
and the decision to remove it from
the shrinking list of free-to-air
events is a controversial one.
Veteran BBC commentator Peter Alliss, whose voice has become
synonymous with the tournament, led the chorus of disapproval.
“It saddens me because I have
been working since 1961 but it really saddens me because all golfers
throughout Britain and Europe
will miss the BBC,” he told BBC
Radio 5.
“I don’t think there will be a
golfer that won’t be bitterly disappointed at the news today.”
Former world number one Lee
Westwood labelled the move “a
disgrace” as speculation grew that
the BBC would pull the plug on its
live coverage after 60 years.
But the decision was welcomed
by former British Open champion
Tony Jacklin.
“Sky are dedicated to the sport,”
the 70-year-old Englishman and
four-times European Ryder Cup
captain told Reuters.
“I’ve worked with their team
for the last three years and I think
they’ve done a great job for golf
and for the European Tour.
“Let’s face it the people who
play golf and love golf are going to
have Sky so from a financial point
of view, and at the end of the day
money talks, if the R&A are going to be able to do more for the
grassroots of golf with the extra
money they are getting, it’s a good
The new TV deal will begin at
the 146th Open to be played at
Royal Birkdale in 2017.
Despite the inevitable criticism
that people without satellite TV
contracts will be excluded from
following hole-by-hole coverage
of golf’s oldest major, R&A chief
executive Peter Dawson welcomed
the deal.
“We believe this is the best result for The Open and for golf,” he
said in a statement.
“The way people consume live
sport is changing significantly and
this new agreement ensures fans
have a range of options for enjoying the Championship on television, on radio and through digital
Veteran BBC commentator
Peter Alliss, whose voice
has become synonymous
with the tournament, led the
chorus of disapproval
“Sky Sports has an excellent
track record in covering golf across
its platforms and has become the
home of live golf coverage over recent years.”
The deal, reported to be worth
10 million pounds ($15.1 million) a
year to the R&A, compared to the 7
million a year the BBC was paying
for live rights, will help golf halt
the decline in grassroots participation, according to Dawson.
“Importantly, the new agreement will enable us to increase
substantially our support for golf
in the United Kingdom and Ireland,” he said.
Sky Sports already shows live
coverage of the U.S. Masters, the
U.S. Open, the U.S. PGA championship and the Ryder Cup.
The R&A said that commercial
breaks, the lack of which make
the BBC’s coverage so popular,
would be kept to a maximum of
four minutes per hour, with none
longer than 60 seconds.
Qatar Volleyball League
Action from the Al Sadd- Al Ahli match in the Qatar Volleyball League
yesterday. Al Ahli won 17-25, 25-13, 25-22, 25-23. PICTURE: Thajudeen
Olympic changes won’t affect athletics: Bubka
thletics will retain its prominent position despite changes to the Olympic
programme that could see fewer events
but more sports, IAAF presidential
candidate Sergey Bubka said yesterday.
The Ukrainian, who won a pole vault gold
medal in the Games, six consecutive world
championships and set 35 world records, is taking on Britain’s Sebastian Coe in a race to become the head of the International Association
of Athletics Federations.
Fellow IAAF vice-president Coe, a double
1,500 metres Olympic champion and chief organiser of the London 2012 Games, announced
his candidacy late last year. The election is set
for August.
Bubka said planned changes to the Olympics,
allowing more sports at the expense of some
events and disciplines of existing competitions,
would not affect athletics.
“We are very proud to be the number one
sport of the Olympics and we have a strong po-
sition within the movement,” the 51-year-old
told Reuters in an interview.
“The IOC looks to make the programme attractive and I am confident athletics will keep
its strong position,” said Bubka who is also an
International Olympic Committee member.
International federations have been jostling
for position since the changes were voted in late
last year, with some IOC members also proposing the scrapping of athletics competitions including the triple jump.
“I think we will keep 47 events with 2,000
athletes. We will be in the same position as before but we need to look closely and cooperate,”
Bubka said.
However, with a shortage of recognisable
personalities, an ageing audience, a continuing
struggle to attract interest in the United States
and the dark shadow of doping, athletics has its
work cut out.
Much of his presidential manifesto is based on
cooperation, with the Ukrainian Olympic Committee president and successful businessman
wanting to empower national federations to maximise reach and profit with the help of the IAAF.
“More decentralisation and make continen-
tal associations stronger,” he said of his plans.
“When we make strong national federations we
can be very powerful and very successful.”
Bubka also wants to boost the fight against
doping, with athletics once more in the spotlight after recent revelations regarding the use
of banned substances by Russian competitors.
The Ukrainian great, who unsuccessfully ran
for the IOC presidency in 2013, said an extraordinary meeting of all stakeholders, from athletes
to broadcasters, would be needed to review all
aspects of the sport and come up “with a road
Bubka said it was positive for the sport that
both candidates were former top athletes.
“I think it is good because you have a very
good background for athletes. It means you have
different kinds of experience and knowledge.
This is very helpful to transfer to the success of
the leadership of the IAAF,” he explained.
Asked whether other federations, specifically
world soccer’s under-fire governing body FIFA,
should follow suit, he said: “It is very positive.
“If we look at Olympic history we see more
and more former athletes involved in sports administration. I think this is a good direction.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Patriots Super duo Brady,
Belichick far from done
‘I just love the game. I love playing. I love representing our team’
Glendale, Arizona
ifteen years into their
remarkable partnership,
with their fourth Super
Bowl crown secured in
dramatic style, Patriots coach
Bill Belichick and quarterback
Tom Brady have no plans to slow
“I’m still in the midst of my
career,” the 37-year-old Brady
said Monday, not ready to talk
about his place in National Football League history.
“I just love the game. I love
playing. I love representing our
In a league whose salary cap
discourages dynasty building and promotes parity, Brady
and Belichick have endured to
become arguably the most successful coach-quarterback pairing ever.
With their 28-24 come-frombehind triumph over Seattle in
the NFL’s title showpiece, the
Patriots ended a 10-year title
drought, easing the bitter memories of two Super Bowl losses to
the New York Giants in that span.
They also denied the Seahawks the second straight Super
Bowl crown that would have established a young Seattle team as
the NFL’s newest dynasty.
It was an impressive end to a
season in which Brady and the
Pats looked to be showing their
age, and accusations of cheating
in the “Deflategate” controversy
dredged up memories of the
2007 “Spygate” illegal videotaping affair for which Belichick and
the Pats were punished.
With the NFL still probing
whether the Patriots purposely
used under-inflated footballs to
gain an edge in a playoff win over
Indianapolis, Brady said he’s not
concerned if the issue will shadow his achievements.
“I just haven’t had much
thought into that,” he said Monday. “We’ve just been focusing
on our game and I’m sure that
stuff will take care of itself over
the next however long it takes.
“It was a great accomplishment by our team last night. It
was a great victory. We should all
be proud.”
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (right) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.
Although Brady snagged his
third Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award, it was an unknown—cornerback
Butler—who made the play that
saved the Patriots.
It was Butler who recognized
the formation being used by
Seahawks’ quarterback Russell
Wilson and intercepted the short
pass in the waning seconds that
would have given Seattle the victory.
“It happened so quick,” said
Brady, who jumped up and down
on the sideline like a kid when he
realized what Butler had done.
“There was a lot of highs and
lows to the game and that was a
great high. It took a great effort,
like I said. Malcolm made a huge
play to save our season. It took a
lot of guys, a lot of effort, and a
lot of individual efforts. Collectively as a team, we made plays
to get the job done.”
The fact that Butler—un-
Falcons appoint Seattle
defence dynamo Dan
Quinn new coach
Glendale, Arizona
ormer Seattle Seahawks
coordinator Dan Quinn is the
Atlanta Falcons’ new
coach, the NFL club announced
Monday, a day after Seattle lost
to New England in the Super
Quinn, whose Seahawks’ defensive unit allowed the fewest
points and yards in the league
over the past two seasons, reportedly signed a five-year deal
with the Falcons before owner
Arthur Blank announced his
“I am grateful for this opportunity and I am excited to
be the head coach of the Atlanta
Falcons,” Quinn said. “This felt
like the right fit from the beginning.”
The Falcons had to wait until
the Seahawks, who lost to New
England 28-24, completed
their playoff run before they
could make any agreement official.
“I want to thank Mr. Blank for
his resolve as this was an extended and complicated process,”
Quinn said. “My goal is to build
Dan Quinn signed a five-year deal with the Falcons before owner
Arthur Blank announced his hiring.
upon the foundation that has
been laid here and to play a physical brand of football as we build a
championship-caliber team.”
Atlanta fired coach Mike
Smith after a 6-10 season, the
Falcons’ second losing campaign in a row.
Quinn, 44, masterminded a
Seahawks’ defensive squad that
permitted only 14.4 points and
273.6 total yards a game in the
2013 season, which ended with
the Seahawks routing Denver
43-8 in last year’s Super Bowl.
And that was Quinn’s first
season as an NFL defensive coordinator, a role he had for two
seasons at the University of
Florida before joining the Seahawks as an assistant and defensive line coach from 20092010.
This past season, the Seahawks allowed only 15.9 points
and 267.1 yards a game on the
way to repeating as National
Conference winners.
“This is an exciting day for
the Atlanta Falcons franchise
and our fans,” Blank said. “Dan
is a talented football coach who
has a deep and diverse history
in the game which will serve us
“He has a definitive plan for
our football team and what it
will take to win on a consistent basis. He also has a proven
ability to develop players by
maximizing their individual
claimed in the NFL draft after
toiling in the lower ranks of college ball—was even there was a
testament to Belichick’s uncanny ability to find championship
material in unexpected places.
That includes his most famous
pick Brady.
Judge blocks
NFL concussion
A US judge refused on
Monday to accept a proposed
settlement between the
National Football League and
thousands of retired players
over concussions, saying
changes were needed before
she would approve it.
Ruling one day after the
Super Bowl, US District Judge
Anita Brody in Philadelphia
said the accord should
expand payment eligibility
for some players and families.
Among the changes she
wants is an assurance that
retired players who died of
the brain disease chronic
traumatic encephalopathy
after she granted preliminary
approval of the accord last
July 7 should be covered.
The NFL had agreed to pay
$4mn each to families of
former players who died from
CTE before July 7, but nothing
to those diagnosed afterward.
Brody also said the settlement should provide for some
credit for play in the World
League of American Football,
the NFL Europe League and
the NFL Europa League, and
allow for testing of more
players “regardless of funding
limitations” in the agreement.
The judge said the modifications would “enhance the
fairness, reasonableness, and
adequacy” of the settlement.
“We will work with the National
Football League to promptly
address the issues raised in
Judge Brody’s order, and remain confident this settlement
will receive final approval.”
“Sometimes things just work
out,” Belichick said of the inexact science of team building.
“It’s not always a great plan.
Sometimes, it’s just the way
things fall.”
Falling things were very much
on the minds of the Patriots as
snow buried the New England
region for the third time in a
week, the latest storm forcing
the city of Boston to postpone
the scheduled Patriots celebration parade from Tuesday to
A planned rally at City Hall
Plaza will not be staged due to the
large amounts of snow in the area.
Boston delays
Super Bowl parade
until today
due to storm
oston will delay until today its parade
to celebrate the New
England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory, after Mayor
Marty Walsh decided on Monday to push the event back a
day because of a snowstorm
pounding the city.
“Due to today’s bad weather
and the worsening forecast tonight, the New England Patriots and the city of Boston have
made the mutual decision to
postpone the victory parade
until Wednesday,” Walsh said
in a statement.
The city had intended to
host the parade yesterday. But
heavy snowfall is expected
to last until about midnight,
dropping as much as 14 inches
(36 cm), while temperatures on
Tuesday are expected to drop
as low as 15 F (-9 C).
Thousands of fans are expected to turn out to see players including star quarterback
Tom Brady and Malcolm Butler, the rookie who snagged a
last-minute interception to
secure Sunday’s victory over
the Seattle Seahawks.
The team will tour the city in
World War Two-era amphibi-
ous trucks known as “duck
boats” in what has become a
tradition for Boston’s championship clubs.
Fans are calling Sunday night’s game one of the
best Super Bowls ever, with
the Patriots clinching their
fourth championship after a
heart-stopping sequence of
plays in the game’s final minutes.
Walsh also cancelled yesterday classes for students
in Boston public schools, the
second straight day of closures, reflecting the storm.
Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks
defensive back Richard Sherman needs tendon replacement surgery to repair a left
elbow injury while defensive
back Jeremy Lane has a broken
left arm, Seahawks coach Pete
Carroll said Monday.
A day after the Seahawks
lost 28-24 to the New England
Patriots in the Super Bowl,
Carroll detailed the biggest
injury setbacks but said he expects Sherman at least to be
ready for next season.
Carroll said Sherman will
have “Tommy John” surgery,
the replacement operation
common for Major League
Baseball pitchers because of
strain to their throwing elbow
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Super Bowl ad
ARIZONA: Nationwide
Insurance defended its Super
Bowl ad featuring a “dead”
boy, saying on Monday that it
was intended to start a conversation about preventable
accidents, not sell insurance.
The ad, labeled by one
Twitter user as “the most
depressing ever”, has a young
mop-haired boy saying sadly
that he won’t be able to learn
to ride a bicycle or get married because he “died from
an accident.”
The ad goes on to show
an overflowing bathtub, a
under-sink cabinet containing cleaning materials with
the doors ajar, and a wallmounted flatscreen TV that
has crashed to the floor.
A female voice intones that
at Nationwide, “we believe
in protecting what matters
most - your kids.”
The response was overwhelmingly negative.
“Hope you guys are having a
great day. Did you know your
kid is probably gonna die
soon? Enjoy your nachos &
funeral planning!,” Rob Fee of
Louisville, Kentucky tweeted.
Nationwide was unapologetic. “While some did not care
for the ad, we hope it served
to begin a dialogue to make
safe happen for children
everywhere,” the company
said on its website. (http://
Companies paid up to a
record $4.5mn for 30 seconds
during the game on Comcast
Corp’s NBC network seen by
an estimated 100mn-plus
viewers, the year’s biggest
television audience.
Apart from Nationwide’s ad,
Coca-Cola stood out with an
anti-bullying message, while
brewer Budweiser, owned by
Anheuser-Busch InBev, played
on happier emotions by again
featuring a labrador puppy.
Meanwhile, Baltimore
Ravens released nose tackle
Terrence Cody on Monday
shortly before he was indicted in Maryland on animal
cruelty charges, officials said.
Cody is facing 15 charges
that include two counts of
aggravated animal cruelty
with a dog, five counts of
animal abuse or neglect with
the same dog and one count
of illegal possession of an
alligator, Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox said.
He was released on $10,000
bail, Baltimore County police
The Ravens said last week
they were going to release
Cody after Sunday’s Super
Bowl, the earliest that National Football League teams
can terminate contracts.
Pelicans snap Atlanta’s
win streak at 19 games
‘We knew they were going to come out and be aggressive. We just tried to counter that’
New York
ominated from the
start, the Atlanta
team-record 19-game
win streak—level with the fifthbest in NBA history—snapped
Monday with a 115-100 loss at
New Orleans.
Anthony Davis, fourth among
NBA scorers, netted 29 points
and grabbed 13 rebounds to ignite the Pelicans to their fifth
win in six games.
The Hawks, who had not
lost since falling to Milwaukee
on December 26, were foiled
in reaching 20 wins in a row as
their streak was snapped exactly two years after the Miami
Heat began a run of 27 in a row.
“It was a lot of fun,” Davis
said. “We knew they were going
to come out and be aggressive.
We just tried to counter that.
“I just tried to come out be
aggressive and play hard. I went
out with everything I had and
all my energy and left it all out
there. I feel wonderful.”
Atlanta fell to 40-9, stumbling just behind Golden State
for the best record in the NBA.
The Hawks had not owned the
NBA’s best record so late in a
season since moving to Atlanta
from St. Louis in 1968.
The Pelicans jumped ahead
32-22 after the first quarter and
kept the margin in double-digits most of the way to the finish.
Atlanta made a run early in the
third quarter but New Orleans
responded and led 88-74 entering the fourth quarter.
“We knew they won 19 games
in a row for a reason,” Davis
said. “We didn’t want to give in.
Coach told us they were going
to give us a punch and we took
it and come back from that and
never looked back.”
Turkish big man Omer Asik
grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds for the Pelicans, who
also had 20 points from Eric
Gordon and 15 points each from
Tyreke Evans and reserve forward Ryan Anderson.
Atlanta, which hit only 40of-89 shots from the floor, was
led by Jeff Teague’s 21 points.
The Hawks, outrebounded 5232, also had 15 points from Paul
New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis drives past Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center on Monday.
Millsap and 12 from Kyle Korver.
At 26-22, the Pelicans moved
within 1 ½ games of Phoenix
for the eighth and final playoff
position in the Western Conference.
“We think we can win each
game,” Davis said. “We believe
that. We have to hustle each and
every night. If we do that we can
give ourselves a chance to make
the playoffs.”
The Hawks went 17-0 in January, the first team in NBA history to win so many in a month
without losing a game. Atlanta
had won a club-record 12 in a
row over Western Conference
Atlanta kept a seven-game
edge on second-place Toronto
in the overall Eastern Conference race after the Raptors saw
their six-game win streak halted
with a 82-75 loss to Milwaukee.
scored 24 points while LeBron
James contributed 18 points and
11 assists in sparking the Cleveland Cavaliers to their 11th NBA
victory in a row, beating Philadelphia 97-84 Monday.
The Cavaliers captured their
seventh home triumph in the
win streak and avenged a 95-92
loss at Philadelphia last month
which came when James was
sidelined to rest a sore back and
aching knees.
Kevin Love grabbed 15 rebounds for Cleveland while
Aussie guard Irving matched a
game high with five assists and
pulled down five rebounds.
Aussie reserve guard Matthew Dellavedova and J.R.
Smith each added 12 points for
the Cavaliers, who improved to
30-20, hot on the heels of Central division leader Chicago (3019).
The Cavaliers are only two
wins shy of matching the longest win streak in franchise his-
record in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the
Robert Covington and reserve Jerami Grant each scored
18 points to lead Philadelphia.
New Orleans 115
Oklahoma City 104
Philadelphia 84
Washington 88
LA Clippers 100
Hardaway back in the game as
Detroit Pistons assistant coach
By Ira Winderman
Sun Sentinel
he last time Tim Hardaway coached, he was a
father first.
This time, the former
Miami Heat guard has made the
craft a professional priority.
And he’s having a blast, finding a calling nearly as fulfilling as
those step-back 3-pointers with
the Heat or killer crossovers with
the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s great,” Hardaway said, as
he settles into his first season as
an NBA assistant coach, working on Stan Van Gundy’s staff
with the Detroit Pistons. “I’m
learning. And the players relate. They understand I went out
there and I did it.”
The bug has been in place for
years, beyond that volunteer
time alongside Tim Jr. at Palmetto Senior High. He tried to
latch on with Isiah Thomas at
Florida International University, patiently waited a turn that
never came with the Heat, as he
worked as a team ambassador.
And then Van Gundy called
after taking over the entire Pistons basketball operation this
past offseason.
“It’s like being around my
son, basically, because that’s
what these guys are, they’re 22,
tory, set during the 2009-2010
season before James departed
Cleveland to spent four seasons
in Miami until his return last
Cleveland can match a clubbest 13-game win streak by
beating the visiting Los Angeles
Clippers on Thursday and winning Friday at Indiana. A potential 14th win in a row could
come Sunday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Cavaliers.
The 76ers, averaging an NBA
low 89.6 points a game coming
into the contest, suffered their
seventh consecutive road defeat and fell to 10-39, the worst
23, 24, 25 years old, that we have
on this team,” Hardaway said,
with the Pistons to host the Heat
at the Palace of Auburn Hills on
Tuesday night. “I treat ‘em like
my sons.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra,
who has maintained a relationship with the Palmetto staff, saw
the possibilities during Hardaway’s time in that gym, before
the younger Hardaway went off
to play at Michigan.
“He helped out one of my
friends who coached at Palmetto, who coached Junior there,”
Spoelstra said, “and Tim Sr.
ended up helping out the last
couple of years as a volunteer assistant and I think he really took
to it, and he really did a good job
with player development.
“I think it just took him finally
deciding, ‘I want to give this a
real shot,’ the whole deal, the
lifestyle, possible move and everything that comes with coaching.”
For years, Heat President
Riley had moved those he had
worked with onto the Heat
staff, from Bob McAdoo to Keith
Askins to Juwan Howard. But as
Spoelstra emerged as more of a
presence, Riley backed off.
All the while, Riley was monitoring Hardaway, keeping him
within reach in a community-relations role, similarly to
how he had cultivated Alonzo
Mourning for a role in the Heat
front office.
“We were coming very close
to making a decision with
Tim to have him work with
our point guards,” Riley said.
“Look, he’s one of the greatest players that I ever coached,
one of the greatest point guards
that I ever coached. He’s a great
competitor. He knows the position. He’s very smart. But we
always had a plethora of coaches, a lot of ‘em.
“He did a great job for the
organisation in being an ambassador with Zo, and then he
went out and scouted. I think
he learned a lot when he went to
summer leagues and stuff with
our guys. But it just wasn’t happening right now. And it doesn’t
mean it wouldn’t have happened
down the road. But when Stan
called, I said, ‘You know what
Tim? This is a great opportunity. This is what you want.’ And
he totally agreed.”
Before, coaching was as much
novelty as passion for Hardaway, including a stint as playercoach of the Florida Pit Bulls of
the minor-league ABA, a team
that briefly played at the Florida
Panthers’ arena.
This current leap, Riley said,
shows a true commitment.
“Now he’s getting his feet wet
completely,” Riley said. “So I’m
happy for him. I really am. He’s
in the bubble, he’s inside the
bubble. Once you’re back in the
basketball bubble, then you’re
back in the competition.”
Oilers beat Sharks
5-4 in shootout to
end California skid
Los Angeles
ordan Eberle had two
goals in regulation and
Rob Klinkhammer scored
in the 13th round of the
shootout to help the Edmonton
Oilers snap a 15-game losing
streak in California by beating
the Sharks 5-4 on Monday.
After winning three straight
against the past two Stanley Cup
winners and the team with the best
record in the NHL - Los Angeles,
Chicago and Anaheim - the Sharks
struggled once again against one
of the league’s bottom dwellers in
what has become an all-too-familiar pattern this season.
The Sharks are 7-0-2 against
the four teams currently in first
place in their divisions, but
have now lost eight of 13 games
against the bottom six teams in
the league.
‘‘It’s tough,’’ forward Logan Couture said. ‘‘It’s been that way for a
while for us. I wish we could explain
it. If we all knew the reasons why
then it wouldn’t happen.’’
Justin Schultz tied the game
with 2:37 remaining and Derek
Roy also scored for the Oilers,
who last won in the Golden State
on April 1, 2012, when they beat
Anaheim 2-1.
Edmonton had since lost five
games each in San Jose, Los An-
geles and Anaheim before breaking through against the Sharks.
Viktor Fasth made 33 saves,
robbing Joe Pavelski of a potential hat trick in the closing seconds of regulation and stopping
12 of 13 shots in the shootout.
‘‘What a great hockey game,’’
Oilers coach Todd Nelson said.
‘‘We stuck with it and got rewarded. There were a lot of solid
efforts. We faced some adversity
there. ... They earned their goals.
Overtime was exciting. Vic was
outstanding, especially in the
Meanwhile, defenseman Dan
Boyle’s fluky third-period goal
proved to be the difference as the
New York Rangers held off the
Florida Panthers 6-3.
Boyle’s goal at 8:10 was a
seemingly harmless fling to the
net that deflected off the stick
of Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell and past goaltender
Roberto Luongo for the deciding
Rick Nash scored twice for the
Rangers (29-15-4), including an
empty-netter with 1:53 to go in
regulation, to increase his season
total to a league-leading 31.
NY Rangers
6 Florida
5 Winnipeg
5 San Jose
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Chelsea sign up
Cuadrado on
deadline day
‘I am very happy and thankful for this opportunity. This is a great club and it is like a
dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager believes in me’
File picture of Colombia’s midfielder Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (left) in action during the 2014 World Cup match. English club Chelsea have signed him from Fiorentina.
helsea made the biggest splash
on a low-key transfer deadline day as the Premier League
leaders signed Colombia international winger Juan Cuadrado from
Fiorentina on Monday.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had
been linked with a move for Cuadrado
for several weeks and he finally landed
his target after making room in his squad
by selling German World Cup-winning
winger Andre Schuerrle to Bundesliga title challengers Wolfsburg.
Cuadrado, 26, signed a four-and-ahalf-year contract with the west London
club and told Chelsea’s website: “I am
very happy and thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given.
“This is a great club and honestly, it
is like a dream to join the Chelsea family
and to know that the manager believes in
me. I’m happy.”
Cuadrado, who had been at Fiorentina
since 2012 after joining from Udinese,
caught the eye with some sparkling per-
formances for Colombia at last year’s
World Cup, where his country reached
the quarter-finals.
He is reported to have cost Chelsea an
initial fee of £23.3 million ($34.9 million,
30.8 million euros), which could rise to
£26.8 million.
As part of the deal, Chelsea’s Egypt
winger Mohamed Salah joined Fiorentina
on loan until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, left-back Ryan Bertrand’s
season-long loan move to Southampton
from Chelsea was turned into a permanent deal for a reported fee of £10 million.
Wilfried Bony’s switch from Swansea
City to Manchester City for a reported
initial fee of £25 million was the biggest deal of the window in the Premier
Despite more than £110 million being
spent, spending was down in England
compared to previous January transfer
windows, but total spending over the entirety of the 2014-15 campaign represents
a new record.
After 342 appearances, Scotland captain
Darren Fletcher left Manchester United for West Bromwich Albion on a free
transfer after falling out of favour under
manager Louis van Gaal.
“I’ve spent my career at United and
it’s all I’ve ever known,” Fletcher told the
West Brom website after penning a twoand-a-half-year deal with an option for a
further year.
“But I felt it was the right time to move
and I’m not sentimental about doing
that—I have great memories obviously,
but I’m now a West Bromwich Albion
player and I cannot wait to get going.”
Wilfried Zaha’s disappointing spell at
United also came to an end as his loan
move to former club Crystal Palace was
made permanent for an undisclosed fee.
The 22-year-old Ivory Coast-born
winger joined United for a fee that could
have risen to £15 million in 2013, but
made just four appearances at Old Trafford and returned to Palace on loan last
Zaha was joined at Selhurst Park by
South Korea midfielder Lee Chung-yong,
who signed from second-tier Bolton.
Another winger moving to pastures
new in search of first-team opportunities
was Tottenham Hotspur’s Aaron Lennon,
who was loaned to Everton.
18-year-old midfielder Dele Alli from
Milton Keynes Dons on a five-and-ahalf-year contract for a fee of around £5
million before loaning him back to the
third-tier club.
On a busy day at White Hart Lane,
Spurs also tied break-out star Harry
Kane to a long-term contract and released Cameroon left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
As well as securing Bertrand’s services
on a permanent basis, Southampton also
signed Benfica’s Serbian international
midfielder Filip Djuricic on loan until the
end of the season.
Hull City signed Senegal international
striker Dame N’Doye from Lokomotiv
Moscow on a two-and-a-half-year deal,
while Stoke City loaned Robert Huth
to Leicester City and Newcastle United
loaned Davide Santon to Inter Milan.
In a curious move, five Newcastle
fringe players—Gael Bigirimana, Kevin
Mbabu, Shane Ferguson, Remie Streete
and Haris Vuckic—joined Scottish giants
Rangers on loan.
Prince Ali attacks
FIFA’s ‘culture of
FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
if things are played fairly and
played rightly, things will go in
the appropriate way.”
As well as 78-year-old Blatter,
who is seeking a fifth term in office, Ali will also be up against
former Portugal winger Luis Figo
and Dutch football chief Michael
van Praag in the May 29 election
in Zurich.
Asked about the possibility of
the three challengers to Blatter
eventually uniting behind a single candidate, Ali replied: “We’ll
have to wait and see. I have to
have discussions with the others
“And if we are talking about
transparency, I would like to
see at least before the election a
public debate including the incumbent so that everybody know
across the world what our positions are.”
Blatter has been tarnished by
allegations of corruption stemming from the 2010 vote to award
the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to
Russia and Qatar respectively.
Ali, 39, is building his campaign on a platform of greater
honesty and transparency within
FIFA and he was critical of Blatter’s attempts to reform the organisation.
“He has been the president
and the president needs to be
held responsible for what happens,” Ali said.
“I have a lot of respect for what
he’s done in the past. However, if
we talk about proper reform, I’m
not confident that I’ve seen it.
“We’ve had for example Mark
Pieth’s report (into reforming
FIFA), which was shelved and not
taken into account.
“We’ve also had promises from
him that he would not run again,
but obviously that is not the case.
With full honesty and integrity, I
think he should give a chance to
others, including myself.”
IFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin alHussein criticised the
organisation’s “culture of
intimidation” and challenged incumbent Sepp Blatter to a public
debate as he kick-started his
campaign yesterday.
The Jordanian royal dismissed
concerns about a lack of support
from within the Asian Football
Confederation, whose president,
Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim alKhalifa, has pledged his support
to Blatter.
Ali, FIFA vice-president for
Asia, revealed that he had received nominations from the
national associations of Belarus, Malta, England, Jordan, the
United States and Georgia.
But although the Jordan Football Association, of which he is
president, was the only Asian federation to support him, he said he
was confident of attracting support from around the world.
“Obviously there is a bit of a
culture of intimidation—let me
put it that way—within FIFA,” Ali
told a press conference at a London hotel.
“But having said that, this is a
candidacy for the whole world. I
do know also that there are confederations who have their own
elections coming up in the next
couple of months.
“But I do believe that hopefully we will get as many votes as
possible from around the world.
This is a world issue and not just
one of confederations.”
Pressed on the “intimidation”
claim, Ali said: “I’m not going to
expand very much, other than to
say that in the past, if people take
a principled stand, then they end
up possibly being punished for it.
“That’s why obviously the
vote is secret and I hope that
Japan fire their head
coach Aguirre
Redknapp quits as QPR boss
arry Redknapp resigned as manager of
Premier League strugglers Queens Park
Rangers yesterday, saying his
impending knee surgery would
otherwise dent the club’s battle
to stay in the English top flight.
However, his announcement
came just a day after QPR chairman Tony Fernandes tweeted
there would be “no more cheque
book” at the relegation-threatened west London club as the
January transfer window closed
Veteran English manager,
Redknapp, 67, had repeatedly
said he had the full support of
Malaysian businessman Fernandes, the founder of the AirAsia budget airline, amid reports
his position was in jeopardy with
QPR currently second-bottom
in the table.
Head of football operations Les
Ferdinand, the former QPR strik-
File picture of Queens Park Rangers’ manager Harry Redknapp.
er, has taken temporary charge
ahead of this Saturday’s league
match at home to Southampton
as Fernandes seeks a permanent
replacement for Redknapp.
“Sadly, I need immediate surgery on my knee which is going to stop me from doing my
job in the coming weeks,” said
Redknapp, who arrived at Lof-
tus Road in November 2012, in a
club statement.
“It means I won’t be able
to be out on the training pitch
every day, and if I can’t give
100 percent I feel it’s better for
someone else to take over the
“My relationship with Tony
Fernandes has been one of the
highlights of my footballing career and I wish the club every
success,” the former West Ham,
Portsmouth and Tottenham
Hotspur manager added.
“I am confident they will survive in the Premier League this
“I have had such a fantastic time at QPR. I would like to
thank the Board, the players and
all my staff, and especially the
supporters who have been absolutely fantastic to me since I
arrived at the club for their tremendous support.”
Renowned for his dealings in
the transfer market, Redknapp
had long argued he needed to do
significant business in the latest
transfer window if QPR, who’ve
won just five league games so far
this season, in order to help the
club beat the drop.
But Fernandes appeared to
call a halt on Monday’s final day
of the January window when he
tweeted: “No more cheque book.
We have good players. Bought all
the players manager asked for in
summer. Our players not mercenaries. Good guys.”
Despite those comments,
Fernandes said yestersday he
was parting on “good terms”
with Redknapp as he accepted
the manager’s resignation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Harry for
everything he has done for QPR
during his time in charge,” said
Fernandes in QPR’s statement.
“We part on good terms and
I would personally like to wish
him all the best for the future.”
QPR, with only Leicester below them in the table, are one
point shy of safety and a favourable result against Southampton, another of Redknapp’s
former clubs, could see them
climb out of the bottom three.
apan fired their national
coach Javier Aguirre
yesterday because of
fears the Mexican’s alleged involvement in an ongoing
match-fixing case could effect
the team’s bid to qualify for the
next World Cup.
Although Aguirre has denied
any wrongdoing and vowed to
clear his name after being embroiled in a Spanish anti-corruption investigation, the Japan
Football Association (JFA) said
they did not want any distractions for the team. “We reached
the conclusion that we had to
terminate his contract,” JFA chief
Kuniya Daini said in a news conference broadcast live on Japanese television.
The JFA’s decision to part
ways with Aguirre follows media
reports that Spanish prosecutors were preparing to indict the
Mexican and dozens of others
who were named in the probe.
The investigation centres
around Real Zaragoza’s 2-1 win
at Levante on the final day of the
2010-11 La Liga campaign where
Aguirre’s Zaragoza side won to
avoid relegation.
The prosecutor alleged the Levante players were paid a total of
965,000 (S$1.49 million) to deliberately lose the game.
Aguirre, a former Mexico and
Atletico Madrid manager, has long
denied any involvement in matchfixing and refused to elaborate on
his role during the Asian Cup, held
last month in Australia.
The JFA stuck by the 56-yearold Aguirre during the tournament where the Samurai Blue
were defending the title they
won in 2011.
But speculation about his future intensified after Japan suffered a shock loss on penalties
to United Arab Emirates in the
“First of all we’d like to convey
to coach Aguirre that the reason
for the cancellation is that we
want to avoid any influence to the
national team on their preparation for World Cup and we want to
avoid those risks,” Daini said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Wolfsburg snap up
Schuerrle in record
Bundesliga deal
Schuerrle’s transfer from Chelsea was confirmed shortly after the German transfer
period ended and Wolfsburg have reportedly spent 32 million euros on the winger
Coach Ancelotti not
worried by criticism
of winger Bale
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale reacts after a missed scoring opportunity.
eal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes
Welsh winger Gareth
Bale is having a “fantastic season” and called on his critics to relax.
Bale has been questioned in the
Spanish press in recent weeks for
being too selfish in missing glorious opportunities against Valencia, Espanyol and Real Sociedad
with teammates waiting for a pass
to apply the finishing touch.
However, Ancelotti pointed to
Bale’s record in scoring in three
finals in 2014, as well as the 27 assists he has provided in little over
18 months at the club to dismiss
criticism of the 25-year-old.
“Bale is doing everything to
help the team. He did very well
last year, scoring in all the finals
we played,” said the Italian yesterday.
“He is having a fantastic season and we are at ease because he
is playing well for the team.
“I don’t think I heard whistles (from the crowd) in the game
against Real Sociedad. He had
some great moves which the
crowd appreciated.”
Bale played on the left side of
Madrid’s attack in the 4-1 win
over Sociedad on Saturday as
Cristiano Ronaldo served the
first of a two-game ban.
However, Ancelotti insisted
that Ronaldo and Bale would
return to their normal position
for this weekend’s Madrid derby
away to champions Atletico.
“Bale likes to play more on the
right because he has more opportunities to shoot at goal than
on the left wing.
“If he Cristiano Ronaldo and
(Karim) Benzema are fit they will
always play. Of that there is no
Madrid could practically end
Atletico’s title defence should
they beat Sevilla at home on
Wednesday and then down Diego
Simeone’s men for the first time
in six tries this season.
Two victories would put Real
10 points clear of their city rivals
and seven clear of Barcelona for
at least 24 hours as they travel to
Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
However, having thrown away
a lead in the title race last spring,
Ancelotti insists the championship will go down to the wire.
“The game against Sevilla is
risky if we don’t give our best.
The most important match is
tomorrow, not the derby,” he
“We can increase the gap on
our rivals, so we will play our
strongest team.
“The league will be resolved
at the end of the season, just like
last season. It is important to have
an advantage at the moment, but
nothing is decided yet.”
Ronaldo will complete his suspension against Sevilla, whilst
Fabio Coentrao, Pepe and Luka
Modric miss out through injury.
Barca indignant at trial call over Neymar
Wolfsburg’s new player forward Andre Schuerrle waves as he attends his first training session yesterday in Wolfsburg, central Germany.
olfsburg underlined their
Bundesliga ambitions with
Friday’s 4-1 thrashing of
champions Bayern Munich,
and they have now spent at least the same
amount of money on Andre Schuerrle
than all other 17 clubs overall in the winter transfer window.
Schuerrle’s transfer from Chelsea
was confirmed shortly after the German transfer period ended Monday, and
Wolfsburg have reportedly spent some 32
million euros (36.2 million dollars) on the
24-year-old Germany winger.
Having also signed China’s Zhang
Xizhe and Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels in the period for 1.5 million euros
each, the 2009 champions Wolfsburg are
by far the biggest Bundesliga spenders.
That is more than half of the 60 million
euros the 18 clubs spent on new personnel during the transfer window, bettering
the January window record which previously stood at 52 million euros from the
2010-11 season.
The clubs also let around 50 players go,
most of them on loan deals.
Wolfsburg spent 10 million euros more
on Schuerrle than they did in summer
on Belgian Kevin de Bruyne as they reshape their team to mount a challenge on
mighty Munich in the future.
Backed by carmakers Volkswagen, Wolfsburg have plenty of resources, but sports director Klaus Allofs said they were in contact
with the ruling body UEFA in connection
with their Financial Fair Play rule bwefore
the Schuerrle move went through.
Allofs also insisted that “nowadays
you have to pay this kind of money” - after all, Schuerrle set up Mario Goetze for
the World Cup winning goal last year in
Brazil - and that “we want to achieve our
Munich, who still hold the overall German transfer record by spending 40 million euros on Javi Martinez, were hardly
involved in the transfer period, signing
no one and letting Xherdan Shaqiri and
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg go on loan to Inter
Milan and Augsburg, respectively.
Given their eight-point lead, Munich
had little reason to further bolster their
ranks, while there was a little more activity at the wrong end of the Bundesliga table.
New bottom club Borussia Dortmund
signed Slovenian Kevin Kampl for 12
million euros from Red Bull Salzburg,
second-bottom Stuttgart got holding
midfielder Geoffroy Serey Die from basel,
and third last SV Hamburg also snapped
up a defensive Basel midfielder, Chile’s
Marcelo Diaz, for 2 million euros.
Having scored a meagre nine goals in
the first half of the season, Hamburg were
also happy to welcome Croatian veteran
forward Ivica Olic back after six years, for
1.5 million euros from Wolfsburg.
Champions League aspirants Borussia Moenchengladbach were the only club
with no activities at all in the transfer window, while Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin
joined Bayern in not signing anyone.
Bundesliga spending in the January window was on par with Spain, according to the the BBC, just below Italy
while the English Premier League once
again led the way with some 130 million
pounds (172 million dollars).
Ivory Coast’s coach Herve Renard.
ning (the cup), any other thing I
won’t be satisfied with,” he said
at a media briefing at the Estadio
de Bata.
The 46-year-old Frenchman
also admitted the style of the
Ivory Coast has changed from
previous tournaments.
($64.3 million, £42.7 million)
that they declared to he Spanish taxman.
They believe the figure was
82.7 million euros divided into
separate contracts that secured
the signing.
“It is FC Barcelona’s wish for the
judge hearing this case to reject
the requests being made by the
prosecutor’s office,” the club
said. “All of the actions involved
in the player’s transfer process
were conducted with no intent
whatsoever to breach the law in
any way.”
According to the Spanish tax
authorities, Barcelona owe
12 million euros in tax on the
Neymar deal, which would see
the overall cost of the operation
rise to 94.8 million euros.
Only Cup will satisfy ambitious
Ivory Coast, says coach Renard
oach Herve Renard
warned yesterday that
only the Africa Cup of
Nations’ title would now
satisfy the growing ambitions of
his new-look Ivory Coast.
The Elephants, winners of the
competition in 1992, will tackle
DR Congo today night for a place
in this weekend’s final.
And Renard, who led Zambia
to the 2012 African trophy at the
expense of the Ivory Coast, said
his side has blossomed in the
past few weeks.
“A few weeks ago, we were just
the underdogs. But in football, a
lot of things happen so fast,” said
Renard, who took over as coach
in July 2014.
“When we started this tournament, all the teams were at
par. We’re now one of four remaining teams and the best position is No. 1.
“I’m only interested in win-
FC BARCELONA voiced “surprise and indignation” yesterday at prosecutors’ call for the
club and its former president
to be tried for tax fraud over
the signing of Brazilian star
In a judicial file released on
Monday, prosecutor Jose Perals
Calleja called for Barcelona and
their former president Sandro
Rosell to face trial over the signing of the striker in 2013.
“FC Barcelona wishes to
express to its members its
surprise, indignation and total
disagreement with the public
prosecutor’s petition,” the club
said in a statement.
The prosecutor suspects Rosell
and Barca paid more for Neymar than the 57 million euros
With the great Didier Drogba
and Didier Zokora having retired
since last year’s World Cup in
Brazil, the Toure brothers—Yaya
and Kolo—are the only men in
the Elephants’ squad who featured in the 2006 Cup of Nations final.
That penalty shoot-out defeat
to Egypt in Cairo and the dramatic loss to Zambia in the 2012
final in Libreville are as close as
the Ivorians have come to winning the continental crown for
the first time since 1992.
“We now have a different
style from the Ivory Coast of the
past,” said Renard.
“We have some new players,
some of whom you only got to
know at this competition. But
they worked hard during the
preparations. We now have a
balance of hard workers and talented players. This is perfect for
the Ivory Coast.”
Renard’s team will face a DRC
team who stunned them 4-3 in
a qualifying match in Abidjan
in October and the Frenchman
praised the attacking play of his
“They are very dangerous offensively and fast on the wings.
(Dieumerci) Mbokani is a powerful striker, who is good in the
air and keeps the ball,” he remarked.
“They have been used to playing together as the base is TP
Mazembe and their team spirit is
very high.”
DRC coach Florent Ibenge
maintained his team would not
be intimidated. “We won’t have
any complex against Ivory Coast
and their big names - Gervinho,
Yaya Toure,” he said.
“We respect them. They have
great careers overseas but on
the day it will be 11 Congolese
against 11 Ivorians,” said Ibenge.
The Leopards defeated the
Ivorians in Abidjan in the qualifiers, but Ibenge said he will not
read too much into that result.
“This will be a different match
as no two matches are ever the
same. This is a new game and a
new opponent,” he said.
“It was great to win in Abidjan, it was good for the fans and
history. But Ivory Coast have
changed a lot since then especially in the centre of defence
where Kolo Toure has returned,
and they are no longer conceding many goals.”
Napoli enjoy new
arrivals in low-key
January market
apoli appear to be the
Serie A side who have
benefited the most
from the Italian January
transfer market, which was due
to end later on Monday and which
has already seen them sign Manolo Gabbiadini and Ivan Strinic.
Former Sampdoria striker
Gabbiadini was crucial at the
weekend, scoring the winner and
causing an opening own goal as
the Naples side won 2-1 at Chievo to move within four points of
second-placed Roma.
Croat international Strinic also
left his mark in the game and looks
to become a mainstay in a defence
package that, having already conceded 26 goals, is the most beaten
among the teams chasing a Champions League berth.
Samp replaced Gabbiadini
with veteran ace Samuel Eto’o,
who came on as his new side
were three goals down at Torino
and could not avert a 5-1 defeat.
The Cameroonian, however, did
worse Monday, not showing up at
the Sampdoria training grounds
after coach Sinisa Mihajlovic
had cancelled the traditional day
off, scheduling double sessions
throughout the week as punishment for Sunday’s drubbing.
Inter Milan have been very active in the transfer market, signing
Lukas Podolski, Xherdan Shaqiri
and Marcelo Brozovic. But their
pace did not improve as they
crashed 3-1 at underdogs Sassuolo
for a second straight defeat.
Help in defence is expected
from Davide Santon as he heads
back to the Nerazzurri, saying on
Facebook that he never expected
to return to Milan after leaving in
2011 as he thanked warmly the
Newcastle fans.
“I am happy to return to Inter.
There I started my career and
lived so many important moments. I will do my best to repay
the confidence.”
City rivals AC Milan won 3-1
against bottom side Parma, with
new arrivals Mattia Destro and
Alessio Cerci playing upfront
and defender Salvatore Bocchetti
on the pitch.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Inaugural Qatar Cup gets
underway at Doha Bay today
‘This is the largest international power boat racing festival of its kind ever to be staged in this part of the world’
Team Abu Dhabi’s boat arrives in Doha Bay.
By Sports Reporter
he inaugural UIM-sanctioned
Qatar Cup fires into life in Doha
Bay today and racers from
virtually every corner of the
planet will descend on an inshore and
an offshore race course to battle in C1,
C2, C225, SuperCat, SuperCat Lite, SuperVee and Pro Marathon classes over
what promises to be a thrilling four
days of spectacular racing.
The Qatar Cup has been a vision
of Qatar Marine Sports Federation
(QMSF) president HE Sheikh Hassan
bin Jabor al-Thani for several years
and his team’s efforts, in collaboration
with Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix
(OPGP), have made the inaugural event
possible. Sponsor GAC Pindar has pro-
vided shipping support and Vodafone
Qatar has come on board as an official
The Qatar Cup has also brought together two of the leading teams in the
UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship with rivals taking part in offshore racing programmes in the United
States of America and Australasia.
Multiple Class 1 World Champions, Arif Saif al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin
Hendi, will represent Dubai in their
Victory Team boat and will be joined in
the SuperCat Lite class by Team’s Abu
Dhabi’s Faleh al-Mansoori and Rashed
al-Tayer, also regular racers in the UIM
Class 1 discipline.
Qatar’s Mohamed al-Nasser switches from his usual XCat role to line up in
a Spirit of Qatar boat to challenge five
further boats for honours in the SuperCat Lite category. Team Raheeb of Ku-
wait will also be present.
Double Edge/Peters & May (Tanner Lewis and Ryan Beckley), The Hulk
(Robert Nunziato and Dan Lawrence),
LA Marine (Alan Christy and Lee Austin), Smart Marine Group (Grant Bruggeman and Gary Ballough) and Wicked
Performance Marine (Robert Waggeman and Jay Muller) round off the impressive SuperCat Lite class line-up.
“I am very positive about this sport
and this is always something I wanted
to do,” said Tanner Lewis. “It’s a dream
come true to make the international
stage. Ryan (Beckley) has been a great
mentor. Driving with him here in Qatar
will be a new world to me.”
Ali al-Neama and Billy Moore top
the SuperCat category in Spirit of Qatar 20 and are joined on the entry list
by Randy Sweers and Danilo Zampaloni
in Fastboats/Racing for Cancer 33 and
Paul Boudreaux and former Team Qatar UIM F1 H20 World Champion, Jay
Price, in PersuCat/Thordon Bearings/
Ragin Cajun 57.
Dan Lawrence and Ron Roman are
entered in Motley Crew 00 and the
leading New Zealand offshore pairing
of Wayne Valder and Chris Hanley are
registered in Pro Floors Racing 51. “This
is a tremendous opportunity,” admitted
Dan Lawrence. “Sheikh Hassan extended his hand to us. It’s a great thing
for offshore racing.”
The father and son team of George
and Michael Stancombe crew the 36foot Skater Peppers/Peters & May Racing. The Indiana pairing hold two APBA
World Championship titles and three
APBA National successes.
“I am nervous and excited and can’t
wait to get back in the boat with my father, said Michael. “My father recently
The Hulk arrives for Qatar Cup action.
broke his arm and has been working
hard to get the strength back to be able
to drive.”
Billy Glueck and Brett Furshman
crew Twisted Metal and Joe Sgro drives
Outerlimits in the SuperVee class. Race
officials are hoping for around 20 boats
in the smaller C1, C2 and C225 classes,
while local racers will take part in a Pro
Marathon race on Friday.
“This is the largest international power boat racing festival of its kind ever to
be staged in this part of the world,” said
UIM Commissioner Sami Abu Shaikha.
“Sheikh Hassan and the staff at the
QMSF have done a tremendous job to
organise an event on this scale and to attract teams from all over the world.”
Today, the race timetable kicks off
with inshore testing from 9am for the
smaller C1 and C2 class boats. The SuperCar Lite entries take to the offshore
course from 10am and are replaced by
the SuperVee and Supercat entries for
further testing from 11am.
The C225 boats take centre stage for
testing and pole position at 1pm and the
SuperCar Lite, SuperVee and SuperCat
entries take part in their pole position
sessions from 2pm through to 4pm.
9am – 10am: Inshore time testing (C1
and C2)
10am – 11am: Offshore time testing
(SuperCat Lite)
11am – 12 noon: Offshore time testing
(SuperVee and SuperCat)
1pm – 2pm: Inshore time testing and
pole position (C225)
2pm – 3pm: Offshore pole position
(SuperCat Lite)
3pm – 4pm: Offshore pole position
(SuperVee and SuperCat)
Al Nabooda Racing aim for team title boost in Qatar
By Sports Reporter
he Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle
East reverts to night racing at Losail International Circuit this weekend, but Al
Nabooda Racing say the switch will not
alter their plans to gain another team championship boost in Qatar.
A fortnight on from Clemens Schmid’s backto-back race victories at the Losail track, the
defending GT3 Cup team champions are aiming
for another big performance in Rounds 7 and 8
of the 12-round series on Thursday and Friday.
Schmid and teammate Ahmad al-Harthy will
be looking to wipe out the nine-point lead held
by Sky Dive Dubai Falcons and take a major step
towards a third successive team triumph in the
Porsche one-make series.
“We knew from the start that we had a battle on our hands this season, but Clemens and
Ahmad are fully focused on our target and we’re
looking for another big team performance this
weekend,” said Al Nabooda Racing team manager Vijay Rao.
“With Clemens in brilliant form and Ahmad
growing with confidence all the time, we’re
aiming to take the team honours in both rounds
and put ourselves in a strong position as we head
into the last four races of the season.”
Schmid wants to build on a hugely impressive
record in Qatar where he has won seven of the
last eight GT3 Cup races at the Losail circuit,
and al-Harthy expects him to do just that.
“Clemens is a tremendous driver and is in
great form,” said the Omani. “He knows the circuit as well as anyone and the switch from daylight to night racing will have no effect.
“I’ve raced once before in Qatar under lights
and they’re amazingly bright so you tend to forget that you’re not racing during the day.”
Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid in action at the Losail International Circuit during the second round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Speaking ahead of Round 4 the highly
experienced Walter Lechner, Manager of
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said:
“This series is simply like no other in the region
both for the drivers and the fans who can get so
close to the cars and really live the experience.”
“It was established to become the Ideal platform
for the Arab world’s most promising drivers to
broaden their racing experience on the region’s
leading circuits. And I think we’re delivering
exactly upon that vision. When you consider the
ingredients for this weekend in Qatar with only
10 points separating the top two, fractions of a
second splitting the top ten drivers and the drama
of a night race awaiting us, I’m sure it’s going to be
another incredible race weekend for all to enjoy.
1. Sky Dive Dubai Falcons (UAE)
2. Al Nabooda Racing (UAE)
3. Team Bahrain (BAH)
4. ClassicArabia Racing (KSA)
1. Clemens Schmid (UAE)
2. Zaid Ashkanani (KUW)
3. Hasher al-Maktoum (UAE)
4. Charlie Frijns (NED)
5. Saeed al-Mehairi (UAE)
6. Raed Raffii (BAH)
7. Wolfgang Triller (GER)
8. Ahmad al-Harthy (OMA)
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