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VOL. 34 NO. 70 | PAGES 16 | BAISAS 200
P13 Google to launch cellular service
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P16 Super Cahill sinks China
Chief Executive Officer
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
PO Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
[email protected]
New batch of Royal
Army recruits graduate
HM receives thanks
from Japan PM
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has
received a cable of thanks from Shinzo
Abe, Prime Minister of Japan in reply to
His Majesty’s congratulatory cable on
the occasion of him being re-elected
for the third time as the PM. He wished
His Majesty good health and a long life
and the Omani people progress and
HM condoles
Tunisian President
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has
sent a cable of condolences to President
Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia on the death
of his brother Kamal Caid Essebsi. His
Majesty expressed condolences to
President Essebsi and members of
his family, praying to Allah to rest the
bereaved’s soul in peace and grant his
family patience.
Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications and Chairman of Oman Railway Company
(ORC), inaugurating the brand identity of Oman Railway on Thursday.
SC bars Srinivasan
from BCCI contest
$1 trillion to perk up EU economy
13 killed in Ukraine
blast at bus stop
MUSCAT: The Royal Army of Oman
(RAO) celebrated the graduation of
a new batch of recruits in a ceremony
held at the parade field in the Sultan’s
Armed Forces (SAF) Training Battalion
presided by Maj Gen Matar bin Salim
al Balushi, RAO Commander. The
ceremony began with the military
salute to the chief guest who inspected
the front column of graduates. Then,
the chief guest distributed appreciation
certificates to distinguished graduates
in various activities and competitions.
The RAO Commander congratulated
the recruits for joining the military
service to defend the country and its
achievements. He also urged them to
exert efforts to serve their country, and
to be loyal to His Majesty.
The graduates chanted RAO anthem
and proclaimed thrice long live His
Maj Gen Matar bin Salim al Balushi,
RAO Commander presenting an
appreciation certificate to a
distinguished graduate in a ceremony
in Muscat yesterday. — ONA
Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces.
The graduation ceremony was
attended by honourable Saud bin
Sulaiman al Habsi, member of the State
Council, SAF senior officers and retired
Yemen president resigns
POWER VACUUM: Heavily armed rebels remained stationed
outside the Yemeni president’s house; Prime Minister also quits
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court
on Thursday barred sidelined BCCI
president N Srinivasan from contesting
the election to the Indian cricket board’s
governing body presidency as long as
he is involved in a “conflict of interest”
situation as an owner of IPL franchise
Chennai Super Kings. REPORT ON P5
MOSCOW: Tensions in eastern Ukraine
surged on Thursday following reports
that many civilians had been killed in
an explosion at a bus stop in Donetsk.
Separatist-run news sites said that 13
people died and more than 20 were
injured when a grenade exploded as
passengers were boarding a trolleybus.
China welcomes Kim’s Russia visit Pakistan bans Haqqani network US, Cuba seek to reopen embassies Inflated euro sign outside the headquarters of the European Central
Bank in Frankfurt on Tuesday. — Reuters
FRANKFURT: The European Central
Bank has unveiled a $1 trillion
economic stimulus programme amid
criticism it could trigger spiralling
inflation in the EU bloc.
Under the scheme, similar to
that conducted in the US by the
Federal Reserve, the bank will buy
$69.3 billion a month in government
bonds, debt securities issued by
European institutions and privatesector bonds. By injecting funds
into the economy, the bank expects
to increase consumer spending
and bank lending and also to avert
the specter of deflation which looms
over the Euro area with an inflation
rate of negative 0.2 per cent in
December. If the programme runs for
the entire period through September
2016, it will cost more than $1 trillion.
The issue of how risks will be
assumed had created a dispute
with the German government
which did not want to assume a
large part of the risk taken by the
ECB. The decision to share part of
the risk represents a compromise
by both sides on the issue. But
the programme continues to be
controversial. While IMF chief
Christine Lagarde hailed the move
as “effective” in a conference at the
World Economic Forum in Davos
on Thursday, Harvard economist
Lawrence Summers warned it “would
not be a panacea”.
SANAA: Yemeni president Abd Rabbu
Mansour Hadi resigned on Thursday,
a government source said. Just before,
Prime Minister Khaled Baha offered
his government’s resignation to Hadi,
saying it did not want to be dragged into
“an unconstructive political maze”. This
was an apparent reference to a stand-off
between Hadi and Yemen’s powerful
Houthi movement. Yemen government
resigns amid rebel standoff
Baha’s government was formed in
November as part of a United Nationsbrokered peace deal after the Houthis
overran the capital in September.
Bahah posted his resignation on
his official Facebook page, saying he
had held office in “very complicated
circumstances.” He says he resigned
in order to “avoid being dragged into
an abyss of unconstructive policies
based on no law.” Heavily armed rebels
remained stationed outside the Yemeni
president’s house and a presidential
palace on Thursday, raising doubts
about a deal meant to end the violent
standoff that has plunged the country
into crisis.
Under the agreement struck on
Wednesday between President Abed
Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthi
Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi
rebel movement, Houthi gunmen were
to withdraw from the presidential
residence and key areas of the capital in
return for political concessions.
It remains unclear who really
controls the country, which viewed as a
key US ally in the fight against al Qaeda.
Yemen’s emerging power vacuum has
raised fears that the country’s dangerous
al Qaeda’s branch, which claimed the
recent attack on a French satirical
weekly, will only grow more powerful
and popular as the nation slides toward
fragmentation and the conflict takes on
an increasingly sectarian tone.
The Houthis, who seized control of
the capital and many state institutions in
September, say they only want an equal
share of power. With tensions running
high, hundreds of Yemenis marched
to the president’s house on Thursday,
protesting the continued deployment of
the rebels.
The protesters chanted against the
rebels and declared their rejection of
what they called a coup against the
legitimate president.”The Houthis are
against the state,” they chanted “Let’s
revolt in Sanaa.” Protesters raised
placards reading: “No to the coup.”
Elsewhere in Sanaa, government
officials said many ministers refused
to show up at work until they see clear
signs the conflict is resolved.
While the capital was free of
violence, clashes did erupt southeast
of Sanaa between Houthi gunmen and
local tribesman. Tribal leaders said two
tribesmen and four gunmen allied with
Houthi rebels were killed in KhawlanWatadah, 45 kilometres (30 miles)
from Sanaa. The violence appeared to
subside by midday, but a serious flareup in the region lying along the road
to Marib province, an oil-rich area in
central Yemen and a haven for al-Qaida
fighters, could torpedo peace efforts.
At the entrance of Marib itself, clashes
also erupted between Houthis and local
tribesmen over new checkpoints erected
by tribal fighters.
Share your pictures on computer as well as receive voice messages without touching phone using the web browser
MAX: 220C
MIN: 170C
MAX: 260C
MIN: 160C
FAJR: 05:32
DHUHR: 12:24
ASR: 15:30
MAGHRIB: 17:52
ISHA: 19:05
MAX: 200C
MIN: 050C
You can now use WhatsApp from computers via Chrome
SAN FRANCISCO: Messaging service
WhatsApp is now available to use on
computers via Google Chrome in what
the company hopes will be “simply an
extension of your phone”.
“Your phone needs to stay connected
to the internet for our web client to work,
and please make sure to install the latest
version of WhatsApp on your phone,”
reads a blog post on WhatsApp’s site.
This service is not available for Apple
computer users
WhatsApp has overtaken text
messaging as the communication
platform of choice across the world.
Around 30 billion WhatsApp messages
are sent every day, compared to 20
billion SMS.
The company recently introduced a
double blue tick feature, which indicated
whether your messages have been
For using WhatsApp Web
your mobile needs to be
connected to the Internet
unlike other apps like
Skype and Viber where
every device has its own
connection to the servers
opened and read by the recipient for the
first time.
A single grey tick now now represents
that the message has been successfully
sent, while two grey ticks mean it has
been delivered to their phone.
The first step towards getting
WhatsApp working inside your browser
is to get the latest version of WhatsApp
for Android, BlackBerry or Windows
Phone (sorry iPhone users) that comes
with support for WhatsApp Web. Look
for the WhatsApp Web option in the
respective apps before proceeding
further. Android users, make sure you
are running version 2.11.498 or later.
Next, open the WhatsApp Web
website on your desktop in Google
Chrome (it won’t work in other
browsers). Once the WhatsApp Web
page finishes loading, you will see a QR
code on the top left part of the screen.
Now fire up WhatsApp on your mobile
phone and select WhatsApp Web from
the menu.
Align the QR code with your phone’s
camera and, almost instantly, you’ll
find yourself staring at your recent
WhatsApp conversations inside Chrome
on the desktop. For those wondering, the
QR code generated each time is unique,
and by scanning it with your phone, you
are associating the current WhatsApp
Web session with the one on the phone
you are logged into WhatsApp from.
Your phone reads the QR code and
transmits the session ID and other
associated information to WhatsApp
servers, which then establish the pairing
between your phone and the WhatsApp
Web session. This is as elegant a solution
as you can have for a service that has no
username/ passwords, without resorting
to things like one-time passwords or
manual input of secure tokens.
The WhatsApp Web UI will look
familiar to all WhatsApp users. You can
of course joining existing conversations
(including groups) or initiate new ones.
Features like delivery and read receipts
are supported, and you can also share
pictures (stored on your computer, or by
clicking a fresh one using your webcam)
as well as voice messages without
needing to touch your phone.
One thing worth noting is that
WhatsApp Web uses your phone’s
Internet connection to send and receive
your messages, so your mobile needs to
be connected to the Internet throughout,
either via Wi-Fi or cellular data unlike
other messaging apps like Skype and
Viber where every device has its own
connection to the servers. — Agencies
F R I DAY l J A N U A R Y 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
The Omani - Indian joint exercise —
Al Najah concluded yesterday. The
exercise was carried out by the Royal
Army of Oman and the Indian Army
in the RAO exercise area in Al Jabal Al
Akhdhar, within the context of raising
the efficiency of training, leadership
and field development skills, and
the exchange of military skills and
expertise between the two sides.
Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME)
said that Oman oil price (March
delivery) has reached $45.63. The
DME statement yesterday said that
the price of Oman oil rose 27 cents
over Wednesday’s price which was
$45.36. The average price of Oman oil
(February delivery 2015) has stabilised
at $61.1, thus $17.23 per barrel lower
than January delivery 2015.
Oman, UK discuss economic ties
PARTNERSHIP TALKS: Bilateral cooperation, enhancing the relations between the
Sultanate and Britain to achieve interests of mutual concern discussed
London Mayor
calls on Balushi
MUSCAT: His Highness Sayyid Haitham
bin Tareq al Said, Minister of Heritage and
Culture, received in his office yesterday
Alderman Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of
the City of London and his accompanying
delegation, currently visiting the Sultanate.
The meeting exchanged viewpoints on
the Sultanate’s vision 2040 in terms of the
investment and economic opportunities
to enhance cooperation and economic
investment between the two countries in
light of the current decline in oil price.
At the end of the meeting, Lord Alderman
expressed his happiness over the warm
welcome he received in the Sultanate, wishing
that the visit will be crowned with success
and contribute in increasing the economic
cooperation and trade exchange for the two
The meeting was attended by the
delegation accompanying the guest, which
includes senior representatives from
investment banks, asset managers, insurers
and law firms, in addition to a number of
officials at the Ministry of Heritage and
Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi,
Minister of Transport and Communications,
received in his office yesterday Alderman
Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of the City of
London and his accompanying delegation,
currently visiting the Sultanate. The meeting
reviewed fields of the existing cooperation
and coordination between the two countries
and what is related to the information and
communications technology sector, in
addition to matters of common concern
between the two friendly countries.
The meeting was attended by John Wilkes,
the British Ambassador to the Sultanate.
The Cavalry of the Sultan of Oman Armoured Division won the competition of tent pegging
in the team category. The competition was organised by the Oman Equestrian Federation for
this season at the Al Rahba Ranch in the wilayat of Barka. Rashid bin Ahmed al Shamsi,
Deputy Chairman of OEF sponsored the event. At the end of the competition, the chief guest
honoured the teams which won the first places. Ahmed bin Saif al Abri, OEF treasurer and
OEF head of the competitions committee attended the competition, along with a number of
members of OEF Board, officials and officers of various units of government cavalry. —- ONA
MUSCAT: Darwish bin
Ismaeel bin Ali al Balushi,
Minister Responsible for
Financial Affairs, received in
his Office yesterday Alderman
Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of
the City of London and his
currently visiting the Sultanate.
The meeting reviewed
relations between the two
discussed aspects of the joint
cooperation between the
two sides, particularly in the
financial, economic, trade and
investment areas. The meeting
also touched on the investment
opportunities available in
the real estate and medical
areas in the UK in which the
State General Reserve Fund
(SGRF) can invest. The British
official explained that the
UK, as a global financial hub,
hosts a number of leading
and experienced companies
that can support the GCC
countries as they look forward
to diversify their economies
and proceed in their ambitious
infrastructure projects.
The Lord Mayor of the
City of London expressed his
pride and the delight of his
accompanying delegation to
visit the Sultanate.
The meeting was attended
by Mohammed Jawad bin
Hassan bin Sulaiman, Adviser
at the Finance Ministry and
Abdulsalam bin Mohammed
al Marshadi, CEO of SGRF.
MUSCAT: Dr Ali bin Masoud al
Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce
and Industry received in his office
yesterday Alderman Alan Yarrow, Lord
Mayor of the City of London and his
accompanying delegation.
The meeting discussed relations of
the bilateral cooperation between the
Sultanate and the United Kingdom in
various economic and trade fields and
developing these relations to achieve
interest of the two friendly countries.
The two sides also reviewed the good
bilateral relations between the two
countries and the desire to promote
them to serve the joint interests.
The two sides also touched on
means of enhancing cooperation in
the economic, trade and investment
fields between the Sultanate and the
UK and increasing trade exchange
and the volume of investments. The
two sides also exchanged expertise on
how to develop small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) sector between the
two countries.
Lord Yarrow and his accompanying
delegation expressed their gratitude
to visit the Sultanate through which
he hoped to support efforts of the
joint cooperation between the two
countries. The guest was accompanied
by business delegation of various
business fields in the UK, which
includes senior representatives from
investment banks, asset managers,
insurers and law firms.
The meeting was attended by the
Adviser of the Ministry, Director
General of Organisations and Trade
Relations and the Minister’s Adviser for
Commerce Affairs.
A British delegation led by Alderman Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of the City of London with Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy,
Minister of Commerce and Industry, in Muscat yesterday.
Committee on draft SMEs support law convenes
MUSCAT: The team tasked with formulating
the draft Small and Medium Enterprises
support law at the Majlis Ash’shura yesterday
held a meeting under the chairmanship of Dr
Salim bin Salman al Shikaili, Legal Adviser at the
Majlis Ash’shura, Head of the team.
The team discussed the texts related to
supporting SMEs, provision of their legal
formulation according to the structure
developed by the team for the draft law.
Members of the team presented their
proposals and amendments on the final
draft law in preparation to raise them to
the competent committee at the Majlis for
discussion. Then, it will be submitted at one of
the next sessions of the Majlis. — ONA
National Human Rights Commission meets
MUSCAT: The National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC) yesterday held its 3rd
meeting of the 2nd annual sitting of the 2nd
term with chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah
al Riyami presiding.
The meeting discussed a report of the
NHRC Secretariat General for the period from
September to December 2014. It also discussed
the NHRC draft annual report for 2014 and
the developments of rotating heads of the
NHRC sub-committees, as well as the major
developments on following up implementation
of recommendations made by the Universal
Period Review for 2011.
Symposium on social indicators concludes
MUSCAT: The National Symposium on
“Social Indicators: Strategies of Scientific
Research and Policies Building “ concluded
yesterday. The symposium aimed to display
social indicators that have been identified in
cooperation with the concerned authorities,
in addition to display international
experiences in how to take advantage of
social indicators in the development and
evaluation of policies and programmes, to
explore the demographic situation of the
The symposium included in its second day
three sessions titled: “Use of Social Indicators
in the Scientific Research, Use of Social
Indicators for the Development of Policies and
Programmes and Functions and Process of
Social Indicators Database “.
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Oman Rail gets an identity
FACE VALUE: The logo mirrors the vision of Oman Railway towards
the world and acts as an ambassador of Sultanate’s traditions
MUSCAT: Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed
al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and
Communications and Chairman of
Oman Railway Company (ORC),
yesterday launched the commercial
brand identity for Oman Railway
Company (Oman Railway).
During the ceremony, Al Futaisi
affirmed that the railway project in the
Sultanate and the Gulf region is one of
the strategic projects that will enable the
Sultanate to develop its transport system
and become a logistic hub.
Abdul Rahman bin Salim al Hatmi,
CEO of Oman Railway Company,
stressed on the importance of the
project in diversifying source of national
economy and developing the transport
system and connecting the Sultanate’s
ports. The project will attract more
businesses to the Omani ports which
now handles about 4 million tonnes of
The design of the identity comes
in the shape of a train to give a real
feel of a natural scenery inside the
Omani savanna and beautiful scenery
giving a feeling that the train crosses
mountainous areas to take the passengers
to their different destinations. The design
Talks to enhance trade co-operation
discussed with Bruneian officials
Salim bin Nasser al Oufi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, with a delegation led by Chairman of the Brunei
Economic Development Board at Brunei Darussalam Dato Paduka Haji Ali bin Apong in Muscat yesterday.
Dr Ahmed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications at the logo
unveiling ceremony of Oman Railway Company in Muscat yesterday.
also gives a feeling of connectivity, vision
and confidence reflecting the Sultanate’s
culture through its different traditional
The design of the logo mirrors
the vision of Oman Railway towards
the world; as an ambassador to the
foreign world for the Omani traditions,
history, social, economic, tourism and
commercial integration in a quick, safe
and efficient manner.
This makes the train a strong and
effective factor in cementing social,
economic and cultural ties among
Omanis on one hand and among Gulf
peoples on the other.
The design of the brand identity has
passed many stages before it appears in
the current shape. A number of surveys
have been made to get the views of the
public about the railway project and its
role in enhancing the transport modes
in the region in general and its positive
effects on all fronts. The feedback
received from the public point out that
they are looking forward to see the
project come to reality and operations
in the coming few years.
MUSCAT: Salim bin Nasser al Oufi,
Under-Secretary of the Ministry of
Oil and Gas, received in his office
yesterday Dato Paduka Haji Ali bin
Apong, Deputy Minister at the Prime
Minister’s Office and Chairman of the
Brunei Economic Development Board
at Brunei Darussalam.
The meeting discussed means of
enhancing the bilateral cooperation
relations between the Sultanate and
Brunei Darussalam in various economic
areas, particularly in oil and gas fields.
The meeting also discussed the available
investment opportunities in oil and
gas sector, in addition to exchanging
viewpoints on overall issues of common and the Philippines, as well as the host
Prince Muhtadee Billah son of
CHAMPIONSHIP IN BRUNEI: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Crown
The Sultanate participated in the official Prince of Brunei Darussalam and
ceremony for the opening of the 11th Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s
International Shooting Championship, Office, is sponsoring the opening of
which is hosted by the armed forces of the championship ceremony in the
presence of Shaikh Ahmed bin Hashil
the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam.
The National Shooting Team al Maskary, Sultanate’s Ambassador to
represents the Sultanate in the the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, a
championship, along with teams from number of senior government officials
the United States, the United Kingdom, in the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam,
China, Australia, New Zealand, a number of ambassadors and the heads
Malaysia, of shooting teams participating in the
Pakistan, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos tournament.
Oman Development Bank availed 1,023 loans for Al Raffd fund products last year
MUSCAT: The number of loans availed
by Oman Development Bank (ODB) to
Al Raffd Fund projects in the different
Governorates in 2014 totalled 1,023
amounting to RO 34,836,971.
The statistics pointed out that
‘Reyada’ products came first with 758
loans worth of RO 30,498,502 compared
to the other products (Mawrid, Taasees,
Reyada for Rural Woman and Taazeez’)
which provided loans worth of RO
4,338,470 for 265 projects. The figure
reflects the variation of the funded loans.
The statistics of ODB pointed out
that the repayment default rate at the
first year amounted to 15 per cent; a
high percentage compared to the fact
that the Fund is still in its early stages —
no more than one year. The default rate
may be higher during the coming year
due to the lack of sufficient guarantees
by borrowers.
ODB warned against providing loans
of high values or without sufficient
guarantees or to those not qualified to
manage projects, especially the purpose
of these loans is to finance the working
ODB said that its experience in
funding the projects with sufficient
guarantees proved that it contributes to
re-circulating the funds in other loans
that will benefit other borrowers.
ODB statistics pointed out that the
industrial sectors received 233 loans
worth of RO 10,358,602 compared to
193 loans worth of RO 6,358,434 for the
business sector, 113 loans worth of RO
2,170,006 for the crafts sector, 82 loans
worth of RO 3,955,762 for the tourism
sector, 99 loans worth of RO 2,992,197
for the service sector, 57 loans worth of
RO 2,495,617 for the agriculture and
fisheries sector.
The Governorate of Muscat came first
with 344 loans worth of RO 15,139,708
followed by the Governorate of Al
Dakhiliyah with 161 loans worth RO
4,508,577, the Governorate of Dhofar
with 111 loans worth of RO 3,953,230,
the Governorate of North Al Batinah
with 119 loans worth of RO 3,391,185,
the Governorate of South Al Batinah
with 61 loans worth of RO 2,083,842,
the Governorate of Al Dhahirah with
85 loans worth of RO 1,778,251, the
Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah
with 51 loans worth of RO 1,444,525,
the Governorate of North Al Sharqiyah
with 49 loans worth of RO 1,212,498, the
Governorate of Al Wusta with 11 loans
worth of RO 425,893, the Governorate
of Al Buraimi with 30 loans worth of
RO 799,266 and finally the Governorate
of Musandam with 1 industrial loan
worth of RO 100,000.
F R I DAY l J A N U A R Y 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
Nepalese opposition lawmakers
obstructed the meeting of Nepal’s
constituent assembly ahead of the
midnight deadline to agree on a
new constitution in Kathmandu
yesterday. They brought parliament
to a standstill, just hours before a
midnight deadline to agree on a
constitution, as public frustration over
the slow pace of progress deepens.
Pakistan bans Haqqani Network
Saw Boon Yie, 19, helps
her grandmother at their
store to sell Chinese
New Year decorations in
downtown Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, yesterday as
the Lunar New Year this
year marks the Year of
the Goat in the Chinese
calendar. — AP
THE FREEDOM: Each centre has the freedom to decide its own
training procedures and the ministry issued no instructions on targets
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan yesterday
banned the Haqqani Network, a leading
element of the Afghan Taliban, amid
a clampdown on militants. The move
comes as Pakistan is changing its stance
against militants groups involved in the
Afghan conflict, some of which have
historic links with parts of the country’s
government and military.
“Immediate steps” would be taken
against the Haqqani group and the
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, both on the UN
terrorist list, to “include freezing of their
assets and accounts,” Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.
The Haqqani Network has been
based in the north-western tribal
regions for years, launching attacks over
the border in Afghanistan. Jamaat-udDawa is allegedly a front for Lashkare-Taiba militant group blamed for the
2008 Mumbai attack in India, and has
in the past been linked to Pakistani
intelligence services.
The ban is part of a shift in
Pakistan’s security policy towards
Afghanistan, which follows a change
in the government in the neighbouring
country as well as intense exchanges
between diplomatic, political and
military leaders in Islamabad, Kabul
and Washington.
The ban would have little immediate
impact on the treatment of the Haqqani
Network, said Irfan Shahzad, an
Islamabad-based analyst, as the military
A girl with a bowl runs over a bridge after a spell of rain on the outskirts of
Peshawar yesterday.
— Reuters
Convicted Australians
face death in Indonesia
Australian drug smuggler on death
row in Indonesia has lost his appeal for
presidential clemency, an official said
yesterday, meaning he could soon face
the firing squad alongside a compatriot
also convicted of trafficking.
The news came after Jakarta at the
weekend executed six drug offenders,
including five foreigners, prompting a
furious Brazil and the Netherlands —
whose citizens were among those put
to death — to recall their ambassadors.
Indonesia’s new president has been a
vocal supporter of capital punishment
for drug offenders, and fears have been
growing the two Australian leaders of
the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling gang,
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran,
could be next. The news yesterday that
President Joko Widodo had rejected
Chan’s appeal for clemency, typically
the last chance of a death row convict
to avoid the firing squad, removed the
final hurdle for authorities to put the
pair to death.
which enforces some of the toughest
punishments for drug traffickers in the
world, previously said that Chan and
Sukumaran had to be executed at the
same time as they had committed their
crime together.
Sukumaran’s appeal for presidential
clemency was rejected last month, and
authorities had been waiting for the
outcome of Chan’s appeal.
Following news Chan’s appeal had
been rejected, a spokesman at the
Indonesian attorney general’s office said
no date or location had been fixed for
their executions.
Chan and Sukumaran, as well as
other members of the drug-smuggling
group, were arrested in 2005 for
attempting to traffic eight kgs of heroin
out of the popular Indonesian resort
island of Bali.
Both men were sentenced to death in
2006, and sought presidential clemency
after losing appeals to Indonesia’s
Supreme Court in 2011. They are jailed
in Bali’s Kerobokan prison.
The other seven members of the
“Bali Nine” were given lengthy jail
A spokesman for the district court
in the Balinese capital Denpasar said he
had received a “presidential decree on
the rejection of clemency for Andrew
The letter, which was signed on
January 17 and seen by AFP, said: “After
careful consideration of the clemency
appeal of the convict as listed in the
presidential decree, it is assessed that
there is not enough reason to grant
clemency to the convict.”
Following last week’s executions,
Australian Foreign Minister Julia
Bishop said that Canberra would
“continue to make representations
at the highest level” to save the two
Australian drug smugglers.
has been pounding their strongholds
since June.
Nearly 1,500 Taliban fighters have
been killed in months of airstrikes and
ground attacks against militants linked
with Al Qaeda in the tribal regions.
The operations were intensified after
militants stormed an army-run school
in the north-western city of Peshawar
on December 16, killing 136 children.
“That was the tipping point,” Shahzad
said. “Everyone seems to have realised
the policy of using militants as proxy
(against traditional foreign enemies) is
not going to work anymore.”
But beyond the battlefield, Thursday’s
ban had “a very significant symbolism,”
— dpa
he said.
An Afghan man rides his bicycle as he sells balloons on the outskirts of Jalalabad city, yesterday.
Kim’s Moscow visit welcome: China
BEIJING: China would welcome a
visit by Kim Jong-Un to Moscow,
a government spokeswoman said
yesterday, amid speculation that the
North Korean leader could make his
international debut in the Russian
capital later this year.
May 9 marks the 70th anniversary
of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi
Germany in World War II, and around
20 foreign leaders, including Chinese
President Xi Jinping, are expected to
attend a commemoration event in
Asked on Wednesday about the
possible attendance of Kim JongUn, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov burst out laughing before telling
reporters that North Korea had given
a “positive” response to Moscow’s
“As a first signal, it was a positive
one,” Lavrov said.
If confirmed, the visit would be Kim’s
first foreign trip since taking power just
over three years ago following the death
of his father, Kim Jong-Il.
At a regular briefing yesterday,
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman
Hua Chunying said that North
Korea and Russia are “both friendly
neighbours of China and they have both
made sacrifices and great contributions”
during World War -II.
A possible Kim visit to Russia, she
said, would be “conducive to regional
peace and stability”.
Kim Jong-Un
Hua did not provide further details
on Xi’s schedule, or on any plans for
either a visit by the Chinese leader to
North Korea, or by Kim to Beijing.
A trip to Moscow would signal
Kim’s desire to reduce his country’s
dependence on China, which remains
Pyongyang’s main ally, diplomatic
protector and economic buttress.
But Xi and Kim have kept their
distance since each assumed power and
the Chinese leader’s first visit as head of
state to the Korean peninsula was to the
capitalist South last year, rather than the
A potential Kim visit could also have
broader repercussions for Russia and
Georgy Toloraya, head of Korean
Programmes at the Institute of Economy
at the Russian Academy of Science, said
opinion was divided on the benefits to
Russian President Vladimir Putin of
hosting the leader of a nation viewed
by most as a nuclear and human rights
“Kim’s exchanging handshakes
with Putin would surely give Putin’s
critics a pretext for some unpleasant
comparisons,” he wrote on the North
Korean-watching website 38 North.
“But others can say that the West’s
opinion of Putin is so bad right now that
he has nothing to lose by getting closer
with Kim,” he added.
It was unclear to what extent Kim’s
attendance would influence South
Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s
decision to accept or decline Moscow’s
In her annual New Year address this
month, Park said she would be willing
to hold a summit with Kim without preconditions, and Kim has also held out
the possibility of “highest-level” talks
between the two rivals.
But senior government officials
in Seoul admit the chances of such a
meeting are remote given the difficulty
the Koreas have in organising talks at
any level.
— Reuters
Lanka vows to
find cash stolen
by Rajapakse
Sri Lanka’s new
government pledged yesterday to trace
billions of dollars in stolen wealth
stashed abroad by members of the
previous regime and said experts from
the IMF and World Bank had agreed
to help. Former president Mahinda
Rajapakse and his powerful family are
accused of siphoning large sums of
money from the public coffers during
his decade in power, which ended when
he was voted out this month. The new
cabinet agreed at its first meeting on
Wednesday to track down the cash,
and said forensic experts from India’s
central bank, the World Bank and the
IMF would assist.
“We will go after the foreign assets
of Sri Lankans,” health minister and
cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne
told reporters in Colombo. “Billions of
dollars have been stolen and taken out
of the country.”
Sri Lanka’s anti-graft body has
already slapped overseas travel bans
on the former central bank governor
Nivard Cabraal and Sajin Vass
Gunawardena, a key Rajapakse aide,
pending a corruption investigation.
Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka
said a preliminary study by a local
university showed the cost of new road
construction in Sri Lanka in 2013 had
been inflated by Rs 200 billion. — AFP
Bodies found strapped to seats near AirAsia fuselage
Indonesian divers yesteday found five
bodies still belted into their seats near
the main section of an AirAsia plane that
crashed into the Java Sea last month with
162 people on board, and are hopeful
of reaching the fuselage. A total of 58
bodies have now been found following
the crash of flight QZ8501 which
went down on December 28 in stormy
weather as it flew from the Indonesian
city of Surabaya to Singapore.
“Our divers found five bodies buried
in mud, close to the plane fuselage.
They were still belted to their seats,” S
B Supriyadi, a rescue agency official
coordinating the search, said.
“We believe they spilled out of the
fuselage, which is 50 to 100 metres away,”
he said.
Three bodies have been retrieved and
taken to the warship Banda Aceh, while
the other two were still being recovered,
he said.
He added that divers had yet to reach
the main section of the plane, which is
thought to contain the bulk of passengers
and crew, as visibility under water was
only two metres.
“But it is a bright, clear day so we
remain optimistic that the divers might
reach the wreckage soon,” he said.
The main body of the Airbus A320200 was spotted on the seabed by a
Indonesian rescue personnel unload body bags from a military helicopter in Pangkalan Bun yesterday containing bodies
recovered from the underwater wreckage of ill-fated AirAsia flight.
military vessel last week following an
arduous search in shallow Indonesian
waters, but strong underwater currents
and rough seas have prevented divers
from reaching it.
The jet’s black boxes — the cockpit
voice recorder and flight data recorder
— were recovered last week, and
investigators are analysing them.
Indonesian Transport Minister
Ignasius Jonan said this week that the
plane climbed abnormally fast before
stalling and plunging into the sea.
Just moments before the plane
disappeared off the radar, the pilot had
asked to climb to avoid a major storm but
was not immediately granted permission
due to heavy air traffic.
JANUARY 23 l 2015
APEX COURT ORDER: Strikes down an amendment which permitted office bearers to have commercial interests
SC bars Srinivasan from contesting BCCI poll
BJP calls for
shutdown, Left
to boycott Mani
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court
on Thursday barred sidelined BCCI
president N Srinivasan from contesting
the election to the Indian cricket board’s
governing body presidency as long as
he is involved in a “conflict of interest”
situation as an owner of IPL franchise
Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
The apex court said this while
striking down an amendment to the
Board of Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI) rules which permitted the
office bearers of the apex cricket body
to have commercial interests in the
Indian Premier League (IPL) and the
Champions League Twenty 20 — all
events organised by the BCCI.
The apex court bench, of Justice T
S Thakur and Justice Fakkir Mohamed
Ibrahim Kalifulla, held Srinivasan’s sonin-law and CSK “official” Gurunath
Meiyappan, and IPL franchise Rajasthan
Royals’ co-owner Raj Kundra guilty of
betting and said the punishment will not
The apex court, however,
cleared Srinivasan of the
allegation of a cover-up after
reports on the betting and
match fixing surfaced
only be confined to them but also extend
to the franchises they represent.
The court said both of them
were “team officials”. Holding to the
findings of the Mudgal Committee that
Meiyappan’s involvement in betting
was unassailable, the court said the
allegation of betting against Meiyappan
and Kundra stand proved and as a
consequence their misconduct is not
only punishable but the franchises they
represent should also be punished.
The apex court, however, cleared
Srinivasan of the allegation of a cover-up
after reports on the betting and match
fixing surfaced.
The court set up a three-member
committee headed by former Chief
Justice R M Lodha — and comprising
Justice R V Raveendran and Justice
Ashok Bhan — to decide, besides other
issues, the quantum of punishment to
be given to Meiyappan and Kundra and
the IPL franchises CSK and Rajasthan
Royal (RR). The court said that while
deciding the quantum of punishment
to Meiyappan, Kundra and others, the
three-member committee will issue
notice to all.
The committee will also look into
the memorandum of association of the
BCCI and suggest changes in the rules
on the eligibility and suitability of people
for contesting BCCI elections.
The court appointed the committee
after declining to decide the issue itself
or leaving it to the BCCI.
The apex court said Srinivasan will
have to stay away from being an office
bearer of the apex cricketing body in the
But it made a distinction between
commercial interest and professional
interest in respect of service rendered
by prominent former cricketers Sunil
Gavaskar and the current Indian team’s
director Ravi Shastri as commentators.
The court said that despite the BCCI
not being a State, still it was amenable
to the jurisdiction of the High Court
Article 226 of the constitution, since it
performed important public functions.
The court also questioned the
presence of Srinivasan in the committee
which decided on giving compensation
to CSK and other teams after the 2008
edition of the Champions League
Twenty20 matches which were
abandoned in the wake of the Mumbai
terror attacks in 2008.
Addressing the submissions that
the compensation awarded to CSK was
returned, the court said such return of
compensation does not matter in any
way as Srinivasan tried to come clean
in the wake of a public outcry. When
contacted by IANS after the verdict,
Srinivasan refused to comment and said:
“I am not talking now.”
Obama, Michelle arrive
Sunday, to visit Agra
NEW DELHI: US President Barack
Obama will arrive in India on January
25 along with his wife Michelle on
a three-day state visit, described
on Thursday as the culmination of
“qualitative reinvigoration” of bilateral
ties since Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s visit to Washington last year.
Obama is expected to arrive at 10 am
on Sunday on board the Air Force One.
spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said
Obama’s visit, on the invite of Modi,
is a “culmination of a qualitative
reinvigoration of our ties following the
meeting” between the two leaders in
September last year in Washington.
He said since that meeting, both
sides have “acted with alacrity to
collaborate in common pursuits and
traversed a transformative path”.
Obama is the first US president to
visit India twice during his tenure and
the first to be the chief guest at the
Republic Day celebrations.
Union Power Minister Piyush
Goyal has been named the minister-inwaiting for the visit and would receive
Obama at the airport as well as escort
and assist him through the visit.
However, there was no clarification
on whether Prime Minister Modi
would go to the airport to receive the
Obamas. To a question if the prime
minister would go to the airport, the
spokesperson said that as per protocol
the minister-in-waiting and senior
ministry officials would be going.
After his arrival, Obama would be
accorded a ceremonial reception in the
forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
He would then go to Raj Ghat to pay
homage at the memorial of Mahatma
Gandhi. Obama would later head
for Hyderabad House for bilateral
discussions, which would be held in a
restricted format.
After the talks, Modi is hosting
a luncheon for Obama and his
delegation, during which delegation
level talks would be held, the
spokesperson said.
An artist from Telangana performs during a media preview for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi yesterday.
A determined effort was needed to counter the adverse sex ratio
‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’
campaign launched
Modi at the launch of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ Programme in Haryana. — AFP
PANIPAT: Asking people to shun the
18th century mindset of killing daughters
and to stay away from “double standards”
of differentiating between boys and
girls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Thursday warned that if the mindset
about girls was not changed it could lead
to dangerous times for future generations.
Launching the nationwide ‘Beti
Bachao-Beti Padhao’ (save girl child,
educate her) campaign from Panipat in
Haryana, the Prime Minister said that a
determined effort was needed to counter
the adverse sex ratio in the country.
“If we do not become aware and
compassionate about this problem, we
will be setting a dangerous precedent for
future generations.
The message has to go to every family,
village and state in India.
“For every 1,000 boys born, 1,000 girls
should also be born.
In Haryana’s Mahendergarh district,
for 1,000 boys born, only 775 girls are
born. I want to ask you, if girls are not
born, where will you get your daughterin-law,” he said.
Saying that he was “pained” about
the whole issue, Modi said: “People
want an educated daughter-in-law but
think many times before educating their
own daughters. How long will we have
double standards.” “Our mental illness is
responsible for this.
We give a lot of importance to boys.
Many women also do this.
For how long will we look at girls as
‘paraya dhan’,” he said.
“From our mindset, we belong to the
18th century.
We are not fit to be called people from
the 21st century.
In the 18th century, the girl child was
allowed to see the mother’s face and then
put in a milk utensil to kill her.
We are worse as we kill our girls in the
womb and don’t let them be born.”
Pointing to the incident of a boy,
Prince, who fell into a borewell in
Haryana a few years back, Modi said that
everyone was concerned about the boy’s
“There was so much concern.
But when girls are killed all around us,
no one is bothered,” he said.
He said that Haryana took pride in
its daughter, astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
“So many Kalpana Chawlas are killed in
the womb and no one bothers,” he said,
adding that most achievers in recent
years were girls and women.
Saying that if the belief that sons
helped parents in their old age was true,
“so many old age homes would not have
opened in the past 50 years.”
“We need commitment, compassion
and responsibility to stop this sin
(against girls). This is not going to change
This sin is being committed for the
past 50 years.
We will have to create awareness for
the next 100 years,” Modi said.
“Like a beggar (bhikshu), this PM is
begging you for the life of girls,” Modi
said before administering a pledge to the
gathering, dominated by women, to save
and educate the girl child.
— Reuters
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala
on Thursday called for a state-wide
shutdown on Tuesday demanding
resignation of state Finance Minister
K M Mani over a bribery allegation
while the Left parties decided to
boycott him.
While deciding to boycott all
official functions of the beleaguered
minister, the Left Democratic Front
(LDF) also decided to stage a march
on February 3 to the state secretariat
to press for Mani’s resignation.
With this, the entire opposition
in Kerala has decided to mount
pressure with protests against Mani
after whistle-blower bar owner Biju
Ramesh alleged in October last year
that Rs 1 crore was given to Mani as
the first instalment of the Rs 5 crore he
had demanded for reopening bars in
the state.
Muraleedharan told reporters in the
state capital after a party meet that
the tainted Mani, facing allegations of
corruption, will have to go.
“Apart from the bar graft
allegations, he has made money by
even manipulating the state budget.
And, to protest, we will be
organising a statewide shutdown on
Tuesday,” said Muraleedharan.
At Thrissur, the LDF leaders’ meet
decided to boycott all official functions
being participated in by Mani.
“We will be marching towards the
state secretariat on February 3.
He has no place to go but to resign.
We will not retract until he quits,”
LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan told
reporters in Thrissur.
CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri
Balakrishnan said if Mani is going
to present the state budget (March
13), the Kerala assembly will witness
never-seen-before incidents.
But state Congress president V
M Sudheeran said Chief Minister
Oommen Chandy has made it very
clear that Mani will be presenting the
state budget and there is not going to
be any change in that.
BJP is exactly opposite to
what Bedi stands for: Kejriwal rated most
leader and former
Delhi chief minister
Arvind Kejriwal has
said he sees an inherent
contradiction between
what Kiran Bedi, BJP’s
ministerial candidate,
was known to have
stood for and the
values and principles
of the party she now
“There are many issues...
I am surprised how she will cope up
with this and how she will explain (this)
to the people and to herself,” Kejriwal
said in an interview conducted in his
car while heading for a party rally.
“I am surprised at her entry into the
BJP because the BJP stands for exactly the
opposite of what Kiran Bedi had always
been saying she stands for,” Kejriwal said.
Fighting a now-or-never election
against the BJP and the Congress,
Kejriwal also asserts that the middle
class, disenchanted with him after he
resigned last year after ruling Delhi for
49 days, was returning to the AAP in
large numbers.
“Kiran Bedi talks of women’s safety.
But how can you have a person
charged with rape in the (BJP-led)
Kejriwal, 46, and Bedi, 65, were
close colleagues during the 2011 anticorruption movement of Gandhian
activist Anna Hazare that shook India.
The two later had a fallout.
Bedi joined the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) last week.
On Tuesday, she was named its chief
ministerial candidate for the February 7
electoral battle in Delhi.
“She (Bedi) stands
for transparency.
But the BJP does
not want to make its
funding transparent,”
Kejriwal went on.
Speaking while on
his way to a campaign
rally in Palam area in
south Delhi where
large crowds greeted
him, Kejriwal was
confident of an AAP
victory this time
“The last two opinion polls have
placed us at number one (position),”
Kejriwal said.
“The middle class is coming back in
large numbers (to our fold),” he asserted.”
I am being honest.
I myself used to say in interviews in
August and September that the middle
class was very angry with us.
“It is no more so.
Now more and more people say they
want to give them (AAP) one more
According to him, the AAP’s
support base extended among all classes
including lawyers, traders, industrialists
and professionals. “Aren’t they all middle
Kejriwal, like Bedi a Ramon
Magsaysay award winner, remains the
AAP’s best known face although the
party’s four MPs, all from Punjab, are
also campaigning in Delhi.
Unlike in December 2013 when the
AAP was largely unknown but stunned
everyone by winning 28 of the 70 seats,
Kejriwal says “99.9 per cent of the people
know us now... We are very confident of
winning”. So what is the AAP’s strength
— and its weakness? — IANS
liveable city
international rating agency has
certified Bengaluru as the most
liveable location in India, followed
by Mumbai and Chennai. Though
Bengaluru is ranked 171 in the global
liveability index, the tech hub has
scored favourably over metros and
other cities across the country in
terms of overall quality of living, while
New Delhi has been rated as the least
liveable, with worst air quality.
“In India, Bangalore (Bengaluru),
which is ranked 171 globally, scores
most favourably followed by Mumbai
and Chennai both ranked 182.
New Delhi, ranked 204, is the
least liveable, with worst score for air
quality like Beijing is in the world,”
ECA International said in a statement
on Thursday from London.
As the leading provider of
technology for the management and
assignment of employees the world
over, ECA rated Singapore as the most
liveable location in Asia and globally,
followed by Sydney and Adelaide in
facilities, low crime and health risks
contributed to Singapore maintaining
its top position in the global ranking for
quality of living for Asian assignees,”
ECA regional (Asia) director Lee
Quane said in the statement.
The agency’s annual location rating
system evaluates multiple factors
to assess the quality of living in 450
locations worldwide for enabling
global firms fix allowances to their
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov terms the incident ‘a monstrous crime’
Tensions surge in Ukraine
after bus stop explosion
People hold a large Ukrainian flag as they form a human chain on the bridge across the Dnieper river in Kiev to mark the Day
of Unity of Ukraine in Kiev yesterday.
Romanian judge took BMW and
dresses as bribes, prosecutors say
BUCHAREST: A judge at Romania’s
highest court has been placed under
investigation for abuse of power, taking
bribes including a BMW car and two
dresses for his wife, and setting up an
organised crime group, prosecutors said
on Thursday.
Judge Toni Grebla, who denies
wrongdoing, is the latest in a series of
top officials to be investigated for alleged
corruption in Romania.
They include the father-in-law of
Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the brother
of former president Traian Basescu and
the chief prosecutor at the agency in
charge of fighting organised crime.
The former communist state, which
joined the European Union in 2007,
has come under heavy pressure from
Brussels to clean up its government and
The EU has praised anti-corruption
prosecutors for their efforts to tackle
high-level graft.
Grebla, 61 was appointed to the
Constitutional Court in 2013 after
serving as a senator since 2008.
Prosecutors said in a statement he
co-founded an organised crime group to
forge customs documents and smuggle
food to Russia after Moscow banned
food imports from the European Union
last year.
Grebla has also demanded and
received a BMW worth 56,070 euros
($65,075), 20,000 flyers for his senate
election race, and two dresses worth
1,200 lei ($310) from a local businessman
to intercede in his favour with public
clerks, prosecutors said.
They added the judge, whose
position prohibits him from having any
commercial dealings, had managed an
ostrich farm through intermediaries in
southeastern Romania.
“What is being alleged has
no connection to activity at the
Constitutional Court,” Grebla told
reporters. “It is damaging my image, that
is why it bothers me.”
He said the BMW had been given
to him by a businessman who was also
his godson, and therefore was “in the
family”. He also denied running an
ostrich farm.
The Constitutional Court has the final
say in all legislative and state matters.
Its nine judges serve nine-year terms
and are appointed by the president,
the senate and the lower house of
“It was a huge surprise for us, this is
the first time that a Constitutional Court
judge is in such a situation,” chief judge
Augustin Zegrean told reporters.
“We regret this situation.
Anti-corruption prosecutors must
see this investigation through and get
to the bottom of things because I want
no shadow of a doubt hanging over the
Constitutional Court.”
Grebla will be allowed to remain
in his position for now but would be
suspended if his case went to trial.
— Reuters
MOSCOW/BERLIN: Tensions in
eastern Ukraine surged on Thursday
following reports that many civilians
had been killed in an explosion at a bus
stop in Donetsk.
Separatist-run news sites said that
13 people died and more than 20 were
injured when a grenade exploded as
passengers were boarding a trolleybus.
The Kiev-loyal authorities put the
number of dead at eight.
Both sides blamed each other for the
attack, which came on the anniversary
of the unification of East and West
Ukraine in 1919.
Donetsk separatist leader Alexander
Zakharchenko said that the shell was
fired from Ukrainian artillery north of
the city.
In response, he ordered 17 Ukrainian
soldiers who had been captured at
Donetsk airport to be paraded at the
scene of the attack.
The soldiers “were forced on their
knees while residents shouted
GENEVA: First and second generation
immigrants now make up more than a
third of Switzerland’s inhabitants over
the age of 15, a significant increase in
the past decade, statistics showed on
Most of the newcomers are
European, with Italians and Germans
making up the largest percentage at
11 per cent each, followed by people
of Portuguese and French origin.
The number of asylum-seekers also
rose 11 per cent in 2014, other data
In 2013, 2.4 million of the 6.8
million people above the age of 15
living in Switzerland had a migrant
background, up from 1.7 million in
2003, according to data published by
the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).
A full 80 per cent were born abroad,
while the remaining 20 per cent were
born in Switzerland to immigrant
More than one third hold a Swiss
passport, FSO said.
Getting nationality can be a lengthy
process in Switzerland, and is not
guaranteed to second or even thirdgeneration immigrants, although
discussions are underway to make it
easier for grandchildren of migrants
Most of the newcomers
are European, with
Italians and Germans
making up the largest
percentage at 11 per
cent each, followed by
people of Portuguese
and French origin
to receive the coveted Swiss passport.
Immigrants with no blood-ties
to Swiss nationals through birth or
marriage are meanwhile required to
live in the country for at least a decade
before applying, and even then must
prove they are well-integrated and
well-versed in Swiss languages, laws
and customs.
The influx is having a clear impact
on demographics in the wealthy
Alpine nation, since the migrant
population is significantly younger
than their native counterparts, FSO
“This younger population is
slowing down the ageing of the
resident population in Switzerland,”
it said.
The statistics did not provide the
same break-down for Switzerland’s
1.2 million children under the age of
15, due to incomplete data.
FSO said around 90 per cent of
these children had been born in
Switzerland, but it remained unclear
how many of them were second
generation immigrants.
The Federal Migration Office
meanwhile said 23,765 people sought
asylum in 2014, adding that a large
chunk of them had sneaked in from
Italy after crossing the Mediterranean.
It said Switzerland last year
accounted for four per cent of asylum
requests in Europe.
Switzerland is one of the countries
in Europe that welcomes the most
asylum-seekers in proportion to its
Eritreans topped the list with
6,923 arriving seeking asylum in 2014
alone — a 170 per cent rise from the
previous year, the FMO said.
A total of 34,561 Eritreans
fled from the autocratic Horn of
Africa country last year, escaping
open-ended conscription and the iron
rule of President Issaias Afeworki,
according to the UN refugee agency.
The airport had been held by
Ukrainian forces since the fighting
began last year.
The decision was taken because the
building was completely destroyed and
could no longer be defended, Security
Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko
said in Kiev.
Reports said that a roof in the
terminal had collapsed, burying
Ukrainian soldiers.
Lysenko said that a search for them
was impossible because of the fighting.
He said that 16 injured soldiers were
captured by the separatists and did not
exclude that more servicemen remain
under the rubble.
The spokesman said that government
forces continue to hold other airport
buildings and the runway, which he said
had been destroyed.
In all, 10 soldiers were killed and 19
injured over the past 24 hours, Lysenko
Spain sees record 65m tourist visits in 2014
MADRID: Spain received a record 65
million visits from foreign tourists in
2014, nearly a quarter of them British,
the government said on Thursday in a
fresh boost for the country’s recovering
The overall number of visits by
foreign tourists to Spain was the
highest on record and rose by 4.3
million, or more than seven per cent
compared with 2013, the tourism
ministry said.
Neighbouring Portugal also
reported a welcome surge in tourist
visits and revenues. Just over 15
million of the international tourist
arrivals in Spain recorded last year
were from Britain — about 23 per cent
— according to the ministry’s annual
France meanwhile overtook
Germany as the second biggest source
of foreign visitors to Spain.
More than 10.6 million visits were
made by French tourists and 10.4
million by Germans.
The Nordic countries were in fourth
place with five million visitors, 3.5 per
cent more than in 2013.
Spain’s sunny beaches and historic
cities make tourism one of its economic
strengths. Last year “was the best year
in the history of tourism in our country”,
industry and tourism minister Jose
Manuel Soria told a news conference
on Thursday. “This sector serves as an
engine of the economy.”
The region most visited by foreign
tourists was Catalonia in the north east,
followed by the Canary Islands and
the Balearic Islands, home to clubbing
hotspots such as Ibiza.
Spain climbed out of recession in
2013 after five years of economic crisis
that destroyed millions of jobs.
The government estimates Spain’s
economy grew 1.4 per cent last year.
The latest unemployment data, also
released on Thursday, showed Spain’s
jobless rate at 23.7 per cent in the final
quarter of 2014.
British political heavyweight Brittan dead
Number of asylum-seekers also rose by 11 per cent in 2014
Immigrants ‘make up third’
of Swiss population
‘Fascists’ and ‘Killers’ at them,”
Zakharchenko told the Interfax news
Photos and videos carried by local
media showed residents beating and
kicking the prisoners, many of whom
were injured and dressed in civilian
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov called the incident “a monstrous
crime” and accused the Ukrainian
government of derailing efforts to find a
peaceful solution.
“It is clear that human lives won’t
stop the party of war in Kiev and their
foreign sponsors,” Lavrov said in a
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry, on
the other hand, blamed the separatists
for the attack, arguing that the bus stop
is more than 15 kilometres away from
the next Ukrainian position.
In a highly symbolic blow, the
military confirmed that it had given up
the main terminal of Donetsk airport.
Belgian museum
cancels tribute on
security concerns
BRUSSELS: A Belgian museum
dedicated to the creator of comic
book hero Tintin said on Thursday
that security concerns prompted it to
cancel an exhibition honouring the
murdered Charlie Hebdo magazine
The museum in Louvain-la-Neuve
near Brussels said it took the decision
after consulting on Wednesday with
police who foiled a plot in Belgium
last week, which followed the attack
on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
“The police presented us with the
nature of the potential risks we need
to be attentive to,” said Nick Rodwell,
director of the museum dedicated to
the memory and works of Herge. “We
decided not to open our exhibition
on Thursday morning insofar as it
could raise the concerns of both
museum staff and the residents
of Louvain-la-Neuve,” he said in a
Rodwell did not rule out reversing
the decision if the alert level in
Belgium decreases in the days and
weeks ahead. The government raised
the threat alert to three on a scale of
four after police conducted a series
of raids January 15 to foil a plot to kill
Belgian police. The cartoons of the
prophet triggered anger worldwide
and sparked death threats from
various opposition groups.
Belgian authorities have
established no immediate link
between the plot in Belgium and
the killing spree in Paris, which
involved a third gunman who killed
a policewoman and four Jewish
hostages at a kosher supermarket.
LONDON: Leon Brittan (picture left), a former British minister in the government of
Margaret Thatcher, has died, his family said on Thursday.
Brittan, 75, was Home Secretary (interior minister) between 1983 and 1985.
“Leon passed away last night at his home in London after a long battle with cancer,”
his family said in a statement.
The former Conservative MP was home secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s
government from 1983 to 1985.
First elected in 1974, he later became trade and industry secretary and stood down
from the Commons when he became a European commissioner in 1989.
His family paid tribute to his “extraordinary commitment to British public life”.
As an MP, he represented the constituencies of Cleveland and Whitby and
Richmond in Yorkshire. The 75-year-old was last in hospital in Christmas 2013 for
treatment for cancer and heart trouble.
Lord Brittan was thrust into the headlines in July last year by questions over his
handling of a dossier handed to him as home secretary in 1983 by Tory MP Geoffrey
Dickens, alleging the existence of a paedophile ring at Westminster.
Bill and Melinda Gates attend a debate on the 2030 Sustainable
Development Goals in Brussels yesterday. — AFP
Jury fails to reach verdicts in bribery trial
LONDON: A British jury has failed to reach a verdict at the trial of four journalists from
the tabloid Sun accused of bribing police and public officials for scoops.
Jurors announced Thursday after 49 hours of deliberations that they could not agree
on verdicts against head of news Chris Pharo, ex-deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll,
reporter Jamie Pyatt and former managing editor Graham Dudman. Prosecutors said
they would seek a retrial.
Two other defendants were acquitted last week. Many senior journalists from
Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers have been arrested as part of a sprawling probe
into alleged tabloid wrongdoing.
Several have been acquitted, including former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks.
The defendants denied all the charges and claimed they were “fed to the wolves” by
parent company News International after the phone-hacking scandal.
Murdoch became managing director of Australia’s News Limited, inherited from his
father. He is the founder, Chairman and CEO of global media holding company News
Corporation, the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, and its successors News
Corp and 21st Century Fox after the conglomerate split 2 years back.
JANUARY 23 l 2015
SIGNS OF HOPE: Despite persistent disagreements over US migration policies, both sides claimed to have a good first day
US, Cuba seek to reopen embassies in historic talks
Director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s North American affairs office Josefina Vidal (L) and US Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson attends negotiations to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba in Havana.
HAVANA: Cuban officials sat down on
Thursday with the highest-level US delegation to visit Havana in 35 years for
landmark talks on reopening embassies
and thawing long frozen ties.
US Assistant Secretary of state Roberta Jacobson, the most senior US official on the communist-ruled island
since 1980, led the American delegation
as the Cold War-era rivals opened a second day of meetings.
Cuba was represented by the director
of the foreign ministry’s US affairs department, Josefina Vidal, at the capital’s
Convention Center.
The two sides claimed a good first
day on Wednesday despite persistent
disagreements over US migration policies, which Havana says encourages Cubans to flee to nearby Florida.
US President Barack Obama and
Cuban leader Raul Castro surprised the
world in December when they simultaneously announced plans to normalise
relations following months of secret negotiations.
The raising of the US and Cuban
flags in each other’s capitals would send
powerful signals of the new era the two
nations want to enter, though no timeline has been given for the reopening of
US Secretary of State John Kerry
warned on Wednesday that the two
sides still have much to negotiate before they can normalise ties frozen since
“When it is timely, when it is appropriate, I’ll look forward to travelling
to Cuba in order to formally open an
embassy and begin to move forward,”
Kerry said in Washington.
Climate change brings world
closer to ‘doomsday’: scientists
Cuban officials have also downplayed
expectations of major breakthroughs
this week, stressing that normalising ties
will be a long and complex process.
After Jacobson had a working dinner
with Cuban counterparts on Wednesday night, the two sides will negotiate
how to turn their “interests sections”
into fully functioning embassies with
ambassadors in Washington and Havana.
The US mission to Cuba, a concrete
and glass building along the capital’s
picturesque seawall, has been a symbol of the countries’ animosity since it
opened in 1977.
Across the main entrance, the Cuban
government built a vast esplanade to
hold anti-US rallies.
In 2006, then president Fidel Castro
ordered 138 flagpoles erected to block a
giant display screen the mission was using to convey political messages.
Now, Washington wants Havana to
reaccredit its diplomats; end travel restrictions for them within the island;
ease shipments to the US mission; and
lift a cap on US personnel.
“I don’t know if these things are going to be resolved in one meeting,” a US
official said.
The Cuban delegation has voiced
“deep concerns” over the situation of the
interests section in Washington, saying
the US embargo has left its consulate
without banking services for almost a
Between February and May last year,
the Cuban consulate was unable to issue passports because it could not find
a bank to handle transactions.
Cuban diplomats also face travel re-
strictions in Washington. Arturo LopezLevy, an international affairs professor
at New York University, said the talks
are important to build trust as they seek
new relations in the coming years.
“Although Havana and Washington
differ in the objective that they seek
in the long term, today they are in the
same bed.
It doesn’t matter that they have different dreams,” he said.
Lingering differences were on display on Wednesday, as Cuban and US
officials remained at odds over US policies that give Cubans who reach US soil
quick access to permanent residency.
But the two sides came out positive
after the first day of talks, welcoming the
meeting as productive while vowing to
meet again.
On Tuesday, Obama urged Con-
Court frees Mubarak sons
MIAMI: Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing
threat to civilisation and are bringing the world closer to doomsday, a group of
prominent scientists and Nobel laureates said on Thursday.
“It is now three minutes to midnight,” said Kennette Benedict, Executive Director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, as the group moved its symbolic
“Doomsday Clock” two minutes forward.
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947.
It has changed 18 times since then, ranging from two minutes to midnight in
1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991.
It has been at five minutes to midnight since 2012 and the last time it was three
minutes to midnight was in 1983, when the Cold War between the United States
and the Soviet Union was at its iciest.
“Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from
modernisation of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the
continued existence of humanity,” Benedict said.
“And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to
protect citizens from potential catastrophe.”
The scientists called on people to demand action from their leaders to curb fossil fuel pollution and to cease developing ever more modern nuclear weapons that
are endangering the planet.
2 killed in South Africa riots
JOHANNESBURG: South African media say about 70 people have been arrested in because of violent protests and looting, much of which was aimed at shops
owned by nationals from other African countries.
The south African Press Association said on Thursday that residents began
looting shops and attacking foreign nationals in the Soweto area of Johannesburg
after a teenager was allegedly shot dead by a foreign shop owner on Monday.
The 14-year-old boy was reportedly in a group that tried to rob the shop. Witnesses say the targeted shops include those owned by Ethiopians, Somalis as well
as Pakistanis.
Local media are quoting some foreign shop owners as saying they have left the
area. Police say they have sent reinforcements to stop the looting. African police
said on Thursday they arrested 68 people after mobs went on a looting spree of
grocery stores owned by foreign nationals in Johannesburg’s Soweto township.
The violence erupted after a foreign shopkeeper shot dead a teenager who had
tried to rob him on Monday night.
“Young boys wanted to rob a shop and the owner opened fire and killed one of
them,” police spokesman Kay Makhubela said. “That made the community angry,
and that’s what started all this.”
At least 80 shops, most of them owned by Somalis and Pakistanis, have been
looted over the past three days, the police said.
A second person was killed on Wednesday night, and police said they were still
investigating the circumstances.
Amid widespread poverty and unemployment, frustration in Johannesburg’s
run-down neighbourhoods often boils over into anti-immigrant violence.
In 2008, deadly xenophobic violence broke out around Johannesburg townships, killing 62 people.
Members of the Ahrar movement take part in a demonstration at Talaat Harb Square in the Egyptian capital Cairo. — AFP
CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the release of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s two sons pending
their retrial on corruption charges, a judicial official said.
Their lawyer Farid al Deeb said Alaa
and Gamal Mubarak were free to leave
prison after the court order because
they had served the maximum pretrial
detention period. A police official said
the Cairo prison holding them had received notice of the release order.
Mubarak, unseated in Egypt’s 2011
uprising, was convicted by a lower court
on corruption charges with his two sons
last year, with Alaa and Gamal receiving four-year sentences. Their charges
included embezzling at least $16 million
earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.
The retrial was ordered this month
and Deeb said at the time that the elder
Mubarak, who is in a military hospital,
would also be a free man. But state media reported there had been no orders
yet for his release and there have been
no signs of the 86-year-old leaving the
The release of the Mubaraks presents
a dilemma for President Abdel Fattah al
Sisi, a former army chief whom opponents accuse of reviving Mubarak-era
practices. Sisi took power after ousting
Egypt’s first post-revolution leader president Mohamed Mursi — in 2013 and
won an election with massive support
last year. But he has faced accusations
of being even more authoritarian than
Mubarak, unleashing a crackdown on
Mursi supporters that has killed at least
1,400 people.
The possible release of the Mubaraks
so close to the January 25 anniversary of
the 2011 revolt might especially antago-
nise government critics.
After the court’s announcement on
Thursday, several dozen fighters tried to
hold a protest in central Cairo but police
dispersed them, an interior ministry official said. Mursi is himself now on trial
over violence during the 2011 uprising
in which protesters torched police stations across the country.
Sisi himself has dismissed such allegations and — wary of appearing as
a Mubarak-era loyalist — has said he
would decree legislation banning “insults” to the uprising as well as the 2013
protests that prompted the army to remove Mursi.
The turbulent years since his departure have caused many Egyptians to
remember his relatively stable rule with
nostalgia, and to support Sisi as a selfstyled tough leader who would restore
gress to end the decades-long embargo
against Cuba, which the Castro regime
has blamed for the country’s economic
The dissident community on the island of 11 million has had a mixed reaction, praising Obama while voicing
concern that too much was conceded to
the regime.
In Washington, some Cuban-American lawmakers have criticised Obama,
saying the administration had given
up too much without securing human
rights commitments.
“As the administration pursues further engagement with Cuba, I urge you
to link the pace of changes in US policy
to reciprocal action from the Castro regime,” Senator Bob Menendez, a fellow
Democrat, said in a letter to Kerry.
DRC delays
vote on
electoral law
KINSHASA: Democratic Republic of
Congo’s Senate has delayed until Friday a vote on changes to an election
law as it faces pressure from Western
powers to withdraw or alter a proposed bill that has led to days of violent protests.
The new legislation calls for a census before elections due next year.
President Joseph Kabila’s allies say
the move is needed to update voter
lists but critics say it is a ploy to allow
him to remain in office after his last
term runs out.
The capital was largely quiet on
Thursday but witnesses said at least
one woman was killed when police
fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse thousands of protesters in the
eastern city of Goma.
Police said that only tear gas and
sound grenades were used.
At least 42 people have been
killed in clashes with security forces,
one campaign group said on Wednesday.
The government, which denies any
plan to delay elections, said 15 people,
most of them looters, have died.
The bill, which was approved by the
lower house on Saturday night, was
delayed because the Senate commission examining the legislation had not
finished looking at proposed amendments.
“For the future of our country, we
cannot botch it.
That is why we need to give the
commission the time to finalise that
law that satisfies everyone,” Senate
President Leon Kengo Wa Dondo told
— Reuters
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Privacy is dead, long live technology
magine a world where mosquito-sized robots fly
around stealing samples of your DNA.
Or where a department store knows from your
buying habits that you’re pregnant even before
your family does.
That is the terrifying dystopian world portrayed by a group of Harvard professors at the
World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday,
where the assembled elite heard that the notion of
individual privacy is effectively dead.
“Welcome to today. We’re already in that
world,” said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University.
“Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer
How we conventionally think of privacy is
dead,” she added.
Another Harvard researcher into genetics said
it was “inevitable” that one’s personal genetic information would enter more and more into the
public sphere.
Sophia Roosth said intelligence agents were
already asked to collect genetic information on
foreign leaders to determine things like suscepti-
“Governments are talking about putting in
bility to disease and life expectancy.
“We are at the dawn of the age of genetic Mc- back doors for communication so that terrorists
Carthyism,” she said, referring to witch-hunts can’t communicate without being spied on.
The problem is that if
against Communists in 1950s
governments can do that, so
can the bad guys,” Nye told
What’s more, Seltzer imagthe forum.
ined a world in which tiny robot
Privacy is traded for
“Are you more worried
drones flew around, the size of
about big brother or your
mosquitoes, extracting a sample convenience, thanks
nasty little cousin?”
of your DNA for analysis by, say, to technology. Does it
However, despite the
the government or an insurance
make a world a better
pessimistic Orwellian vifirm. Invasions of privacy are
sion, the academics were at
“going to become more perva- place where surveillance
pains to stress that the posisive,” she predicted.
is pervasive and breach
aspects of technology
“It’s not whether this is going
of privacy is a common, tive
still far outweigh the restricto happen, it’s already happentions on privacy they entail.
ing...We live in a surveillance wonders Richard Carter
In the same way we can
state today.”
send tiny drones to spy on
Political scientist Joseph Nye
people, we can send the
tackled the controversial subject
of encrypted communications and the idea of same machine into an Ebola ward to “zap the
regulating to ensure governments can always see germs,” Seltzer said.
“The technology is there, it is up to us how to
even encrypted messages in the interests of nause it,” she added.
tional security.
“By and large, tech has done more good than
harm,” she said, pointing to “tremendous” advances in healthcare in some rural areas of the
developing world that have been made possible
by technology.
And at a separate session on artificial intelligence, panellists appeared to accept the limit on
privacy as part of modern life.
Rodney Brooks, Chairman of Rethink Robotics, an American tech firm, took the example of
Google Maps guessing — usually correctly —
where you want to go.
“At first, I found that spooky and kind of scary.
Then I realised, actually, it’s kind of useful,” he
told the forum.
Anthony Goldbloom, a young tech entrepreneur, told the same panel that what he termed
the “Google generation” placed far less weight on
their privacy than previous generations.
“I trade my privacy for the convenience. Privacy is not something that worries me,” he said.
“Anyway, people often behave better when
they have the sense that their actions are being
UN guidelines under lens
N recommendations that people should do at least two-and-a-half
hours’ physical activity a week are unworkable for some individuals,
health experts said.
In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a “Global
Action Plan” seeking to reduce incidence of lifestyle diseases by 2025.
It identified four areas where doctors’ recommendations to patients
could make a difference: smoking,
alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. On the latter goal,
the agency set a target of 150 minutes of “moderate intensity” activity
per week for people over 18.
This can include walking or cycling to work and household chores,
not just exercise through sport. According to the WHO’s Global Health
Data for 2008, more than a third of people aged over 15 — 35.6 per
cent — fail to meet the benchmark, although there are wide variations
among countries. Specialists argued in the online British journal BMJ
on Wednesday that the target was focussed far too narrowly on people
who already did some sort of physical activity. It did not speak to sedentary people for whom a goal of 150 minutes of walking, cycling, swimming or jogging per week may seem discouragingly over-ambitious,
they contended.
“Getting inactive people to do a little bit of physical activity, even if
they don’t meet the recommendations, might provide greater population health gains,” said Philipe de Souto Barreto at the University Hospital of Toulouse in southwest France. People who are fully sedentary
are likelier to develop cancer, obesity and diabetes than people who are
more active. Barreto pointed to a 2007 study of more than a quarter of
a million Americans aged 50 to 71. It found that less than an hour of
moderate exercise per week — or 20 minutes or more of vigorous exercise less than once a week — reduced the risk of early death from all
causes by at least 15 and 23 per cent respectively. In a second BMJ analysis, four health specialists in the United States and Australia argued that
physicians should interpret the WHO guidelines differently for older
adults, who spend a much bigger part of the day sitting or lying down.
Instead of pushing the 150-minute message to this age group, it
might be smarter to encourage periods of light, daily activity, they said.
This could include standing up or stretching one’s legs during advertising breaks on television, or pacing while on the telephone. “We
are not proposing that the 150-minute-a-week standard be abandoned,”
said the team led by Phillip Sparling, a professor of physiology at the
Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. But an incremental approach for attaining it could be sounder advice for the elderly, they said.
Academy President Cheryl Boone (right) announces American Sniper as one of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture during the Academy Awards Nominations
Announcement at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.
American Sniper triggers angry debate
lint Eastwood’s hit film American Sniper has
reignited a bitter debate about the US invasion of Iraq and one of its most famous warriors, with conservatives hailing the movie
as a long overdue tribute to veterans.
Critics on the left have slammed the popular film as an attempt to whitewash the history of the American occupation of Iraq and
say the subject of the movie, former Navy
SEAL Chris Kyle, deserves no hero treatment for his handiwork as a deadly sniper.
Directed by Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, the film has broken box office
records and is based on Kyle’s best-selling
memoir, in which he expressed no regrets
for the lives he extinguished as a sharpshooter in the war.
The right-leaning National Review called
the film a “cultural moment.”
“The movie gives America something
it’s lacked since the start of the war — a war
hero on a truly national, cultural scale,” David French wrote.
The film has been nominated for six Oscars, including for best film and best actor.
And both Eastwood and Cooper insist
their movie is not meant to deliver any political message.
Cooper said that “for me, and for Clint,
this movie was always a character study
about what the plight is for a soldier.”
But a war of words has erupted over the
movie and its protagonist, exposing polarised views of the country’s wars since 9/11.
Film-maker Michael Moore created a
firestorm when he appeared to dismiss the
movie, tweeting snipers were “cowards.”
“My uncle killed by sniper in WW2.
We were taught snipers were cowards. Will
shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes,”
he wrote.
Actor Seth Rogen, whose recent movie
The Interview provoked fury from North
Conservatives hail the movie
as a long overdue tribute to
veterans while critics say a
sniper is not a hero and
slam it as an attempt to
whitewash the history of the
American occupation of Iraq,
finds Dan De Luce
Korea and a cyber attack on Sony Pictures,
said American Sniper reminded him of the
Nazi propaganda movie that appears at
the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious
Conservatives and a slew of celebrities
quickly shot back at Moore and Rogen on
social media, with former vice-presidential
nominee Sarah Palin castigating “Hollywood leftists.”
“God bless our troops, especially our
snipers,” she wrote.
Moore and other critics of the film were
not “fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.”
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican
speaker of the House of Representatives,
wrote that Moore should spend a few weeks
with IS and Boko Haram.”
Former soldiers have tended to give
it high marks, and some veterans groups
helped organise special early screenings of
the movie for veterans.
But at least one US Marine who fought in
Iraq ten years ago was not impressed.
“I didn’t like it,” said Caputi, 30, who
spent seven months in Anbar province in
“It presents a very sanitized picture of
what the occupation of Iraq was like and the
nature of the Iraqi resistance,” he said.
He said Iraqis are given no voice in the
film, and there is no attempt to explain why
they may have resented foreign troops on
their soil.
Instead of the black-and-white picture
painted in the film, he said the war looked
“extremely gray” to him at the time.
“I stopped believing in good guys and
bad guys because of my experience in Iraq,”
Caputi said.
In his memoir, Kyle — a Texan and
former professional rodeo rider — expressed only pride about his war record and
his targeting of what he called “savages.”
He is believed to have taken out 255 people with his rifle, and the Pentagon officially
credited Kyle with 160 confirmed kills —
making him the deadliest sniper in American military history.
Kyle was killed on February 2, 2013 by
a former US soldier suffering from posttraumatic stress, who is due to be tried next
Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and
head of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of
America, said the movie reflected how many
soldiers thought about the war.
“Kyle, much like many I served with, and
our president himself during most of the
Iraq War, held a very black-and-white view
of the conflict.
We were right, they were wrong,” Rieckhoff wrote in Variety.
The movie does not attempt to address
the political “complexity” of the conflict, he
said, but it may help civilians grasp the risks
and anxieties faced by the small number of
Americans who volunteer for military service, he said. The movie will “haunt” civilians
who see it. “For a long time,” he wrote. “And
force more questions than answers. Just like
the war has for us.”
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n the US, hanging out in a cafe
with animals is such an exotic
concept that people can’t get
enough of it. A pop-up cat cafe
in New York last year had lines
down the block.
Online reservations for another
Manhattan cat cafe are almost
fully booked more
The attentive staff will place the owl on your shoulder or head if you like
Hanging out with owls
in Japan,
cat cafes are
just the start. You
can hang out in rabbit
cafes or have coffee in Tokyo with two
goats. And you’re not limited to domestic
animals. You can also spend an hour at a
cafe holding a great horned owl.
Judging by how complicated it was to
get a reservation at Tokyo’s Fukuro no
Mise (‘Shop of Owls’), the owl cafes there
are just as much of a hoot there as cat
cafes are in Tokyo. To get a spot, visitors
are supposed to line up an hour before
Fukuro no Mise opens.
But when I showed up an hour early, I
was lucky to get the last seat for a session
two hours later. There are no refunds on
the 2000 yen ($17) fee.
If you’re late, you lose your slot. Inside,
I was given a list of detailed English
instructions. For example, only touch the
owls on the head or back. And while the
owls are very tame, “they can’t be
potty trained like dogs. So please
be generous when they potty
on you!”
The woman in charge
also gave a long talk and
demonstration in Japanese
before allowing each guest
to hold a bird. The owls
come in various sizes and
species, from tiny to quite
large, including a great
horned owl with large sharp
claws and impressive beak.
Each bird has a tether around
one foot, which you hold in your hand as
they perch on your arm.
Sleek and clear-eyed, the owls seem
calm despite the fact that the small room
is crowded. The attentive staff will place
the owl on your shoulder or head if you
like (I declined in light of the warning
about the lack of potty-training). Staff can
also help if your owl starts to flap. Raising
your hand in the air usually settles them
down, but apparently I was holding my
arm wrong, so a worker repositioned it.
If you’ve had enough and want to just
watch everyone else’s owls, they’ll relieve
you of the bird. Photography is forbidden
in some of the oddest places in Japan, but
this isn’t one of them.
No flash is allowed (and no video)
but posting a shot of yourself on social
media holding an owl is clearly a goal
for many visitors. Unlike some other
animal cafes in Japan, this place is
only nominally a cafe.
There’s no food but a small
drink is included. The drink arrives
covered in plastic wrap, decorated
with a magic marker illustration of
an owl.
But no one pays attention to their
beverage until the final activity, which
involves distributing souvenirs. Each
item is held up and guests raise their
hand if they want it.
If too many people raise hands, winners
are chosen by playing rock-paper-scissors,
which seems to be the same in Japan as it
is in the US. Souvenirs included a photo
book, cell phone charms, chopsticks
and a cloth decorated with owls. If owls
aren’t enough to satisfy your longing to
commune with birds of prey, there’s also a
Falconers Cafe in Mitaka, the same area of
Tokyo as the Ghibli Museum.
When it’s not busy, the only birds there
will be the owner’s, four Harris hawks and
a peregrine falcon that can’t be petted,
only watched.
But hawk owners also come to the
shop with their birds, and some may allow
you to touch them.
This one’s a proper cafe, with dishes
on an English menu named after raptors.
There are other owl cafes in Japan.
All have different hours and
procedures, so it’s best to have a Japanese
speaker help navigate websites and make
calls. — AP
Here’s a ‘smart’ keyboard that identifies its user
cientists have developed a selfcleaning, self-powered smart
keyboard that can identify
computer users by the way they type.
The device can help prevent
unauthorised users from gaining
direct access to computers, said
Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia
Institute of Technology.
The smart keyboard can sense
typing patterns — including the
pressure applied to keys and speed
— that can accurately distinguish
one individual user from another.
So even if someone knows your
password, he or she cannot access
your computer because that person
types in a different way than you
It also can harness the energy
generated from typing to either
power itself or another small device.
And the special surface coating
repels dirt and grime.
“The keyboard could provide
an additional layer of protection to
boost the security of our computer
systems,” Wang said.
According to him, password
protection is one of the most
common ways we control who can
log onto our computers — and see
the private information we entrust
to them.
But as many recent high-profile
stories about hacking and fraud
have demonstrated, passwords are
themselves vulnerable to theft.
This keyboard is a more secure
and still cost-effective and userfriendly approach to safeguarding
what’s on our computers, the authors
The paper was detailed in the
journal ACS Nano. — IANS
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Twitter can reveal
death risk from
heart disease
combines teaching, research and building
he energy-efficient
Eco House project
Technology (GUtech)
was recently awarded
the trophies for the best concept, best
architecture, best communication, best
indoor climate, best energy balance,
but due to jury regulations got the
second prize in The Research Council’s
(TRC) National Eco House Design
“Our project was seen as overall best
in the ranking, but we got penalties
due to delays. You can say that we were
better, but not faster. Even though it
feels awkward, we accept the result, of
course,” Prof Nikolaus Knebel, team
leader, GUtech Eco House project, told
the Observer.
Through the competition five
different concepts for Eco Houses can
now be visited to learn about energyefficiency.
The GUtech Eco House exudes
many unique features. But besides the
innovative construction of the house,
the GUtech made it a point to involve
its students and graduates from on
the beginning. “Through keeping the
project within the university, and thus
close to the students, and through
keeping the business mainly within
the country’s economy, we believe
that we have planted a seed for future
such projects. Large consultancies
and contractors come and go, they
might help you in being faster in
construction, but they are not helpful
in rooting the capacities to build Eco
Houses deeply in the Omani society,”
adds Prof Nikolaus.
Very important for Eco Houses
is the choice of materials. “When
selecting material you need to be
critical. In a narrow view, you would
look at the immediate effect that a
material has on your energy balance.
For example, you can build the walls
of your house out of styrofoam blocks.
This gives you a good insulation and
reduces the heat gains. But in a bigger
picture, this is not eco-friendly because
the material needs so much energy
during production and is not biodegradable. After demolition it is waste
that stays forever. Also, the interior
climate in such a house is not healthy.
So, not everything that looks green is
green, and you have to be careful and
knowledgeable in your choices.”
The GUtech team researched into
natural materials. For constructing a
highly insulating exterior wall they
found light-weight blocks made from
pumice and also used perlite insulation
infill, a volcanic rock granulate.
Furthermore, they started their own
mud brick production to revive the
local traditional material in a modern
way. All these materials need very little
energy in production and can be fully
recycled. “If you make the effort to
search you find that many of the really
eco-friendly products we used are
available in Oman. They were donated
to us by sponsors who we are very
grateful to.”
As for the building’s cooling system,
it is important to mention that about
two-thirds of the electricity generated
in Oman is used for cooling buildings,
and the big question is how this can
be reduced. “As a first step, we did not
want to just replicate a standard villa
and put a power plant on the roof, but
tried to design a very space-efficient
house without corridors. A smaller, but
still spacious house means less volume
to cool.”
The team aimed at getting rid of airconditioning as far as possible, because
the most comfortable experience of a
cooled interior space is when you are
surrounded by cool surfaces. They
installed chilled ceilings, a gypsum
board panel in which cooled water
runs to create a constantly cooled
surface. GUtech is very optimistic
it can achieve the zero-energy goal,
which means that it generates as much
energy as it needs to temperate the
house over one year.
The team is already planning the
next round of improvements to make
the cooling system even more efficient,
and to use even more natural materials
for construction.
“Because we combine teaching,
research and building, students get
state-of-the-art knowledge”, concludes
Prof Nikolaus.
Video-based therapy may help babies at risk of autism
families with babies at risk
of autism improves infants’
engagement, attention and social
behaviour, and might reduce their risk
chances of developing the condition,
the findings of a small scientific study
Researchers publishing the findings
in The Lancet Psychiatry journal
said they showed that using video
feedback-based therapy to help parents
understand and respond to their baby’s
early communication style might help
modify emerging autism symptoms.
“Targeting the earliest risk markers
of autism, such as lack of attention or
reduced social interest or engagement,
during the first year of life may
lessen the development of these
symptoms later,” said Jonathan Green,
a Manchester University professor of
child and adolescent psychiatry, who
led the study.
People with autism have varying
levels of impairment across three areas:
social interaction and understanding,
repetitive behaviour and interests, and
language and communication.
The exact causes of the neurodevelopmental disorder are not
known, but evidence shows they are
likely to include a range of genetic and
environmental factors.
As many as one in 50 schoolage children in the United States are
diagnosed with autism, although some
of these will be milder cases.
In Europe, the rate is around one in
100 children.
In this study, a specially adapted
Video Interaction for Promoting
(iBASIS-VIPP) was delivered to babies
aged seven to 10 months who had a
higher risk of autism because they had
an autistic older sibling.
Fifty-four families with a highrisk baby were randomly assigned
to get either iBASIS-VIPP or no
The video group got at least six home
visits, where a therapist used video
feedback to help parents respond to the
baby’s communication and improve
attention, language development and
social engagement.
After five months, families who
received video therapy showed
improvements in infant engagement, related symptoms, the researchers said.
attention and social behaviour,
They also noted, however, that
suggesting the therapy may be able babies in the video group appeared
to modify the emergence of autism- to have a reduced responsiveness to
language sounds. Experts not directly
involved in the research praised it as
robust and gave a cautious welcome to
its findings: — Reuters
discovered how social media
can serve as an indicator of a
community’s psychological well-being
and can predict rates of heart disease.
Researchers from the University
of Pennsylvania and the University of
Melbourne, Australia, demonstrated that
micro-blogging site Twitter can capture
more information about heart disease risk
than many traditional factors combined
as it also characterises the psychological
atmosphere of a community.
They found that expressions of negative
emotions such as anger, stress and fatigue
in a county’s tweets were associated with
higher heart disease risk.
On the other hand, positive emotions
like excitement and optimism were
associated with lower risk.
“The relationship between language
and mortality is particularly surprising
since the people tweeting angry words
and topics are in general not the ones
dying of heart disease. This means if
many of your neighbours are angry, you
are more likely to die of heart disease,”
said Andrew Schwartz, visiting assistant
professor in the School of Engineering
and Applied Science at Penn.
Drawing on a set of public tweets made
between 2009 and 2010, the researchers
used established emotional dictionaries to
analyse a random sample of tweets from
individuals who had made their locations
There were enough tweets and health
data from about 1,300 counties, which
contain 88 per cent of the country’s
As there is no way to directly measure
people’s inner emotional lives, the team
drew on traditions in psychological
research that glean this information from
the words people use when speaking or
Having seen correlations between
language and emotional states, the
researchers went on to see if they
could show connections between those
emotional states and physical outcomes
rooted in them.
They found that negative emotional
language and words like “hate” or
expletives remained strongly correlated
with heart disease mortality even after
variables like income and education were
taken into account.
Hostility and depression have been
linked with heart disease in past studies.
Negative emotions can also trigger
behavioural and social responses.
“You are also more likely to drink,
eat poorly and be isolated from other
people which can indirectly lead to heart
disease,” added Margaret Kern, assistant
professor at the University of Melbourne,
The study, published in the journal
Psychological Science, was led by Johannes
Eichstaedt, graduate student at Penn. —
Lake Tahoe’s tiny creatures dying off at dramatic rate
Plowed snow forms a frame for Lake Tahoe near Reno, Nevada. — Reuters
he smallest critters who occupy the bottom of
the cold, clear waters of Lake Tahoe are dying
off at an alarming rate and scientists are trying
to find the cause to protect the fragile ecosystem of the
lake high in the Sierra Nevada range.
Scuba divers completed a first-ever circumnavigation
of the shallow areas and certain deep spots last fall,
collecting data that showed population drops in eight
kinds of invertebrates that are only thumbnail-sized
and smaller, including some only found in Lake Tahoe.
“Our laboratory group was very surprised to see
such a dramatic decline over a short period of time,”
University of Nevada, Reno scientist and associate
professor Sudeep Chandra said in an email on
Wednesday.”Big changes are occurring at the bottom
of the lake.”
The findings, which researchers are still reviewing,
are the latest cause for concern for the nation’s seconddeepest lake.
Sitting at the base of a world-class ski area, Lake
Tahoe is a tourist draw for its breathtaking beauty and
outdoor activities, but has long faced environmental
damage from development, boats and invasive species.
The animals — called benthic invertebrates —
include flatworms, the blind amphipod and the Tahoe
stonefly. They have declined anywhere between 55 per
cent to 99.9 per cent from measurements taken in the
1960s, said Chandra, who co-authored an article on
the decline published in 2013 in the journal Freshwater
“These eight declining animals are multiple canaries
in the coal mine indicating that we need to think the
functioning of the entire Lake Tahoe ecosystem,” he
said.”Changes at the bottom may be an indication of
things to come.”
One reason appears to be the loss of a native lake
plant called skunkweed that makes up the animals’
Another contributor may be the introduction
of non-native crayfish that eat the plants and the
Chandra said researchers were still studying ways
to fix the issues facing the lake, but added that the
problems could be reversed.
“The good news is both of these influences can be
fixed, which could promote good plant habitat and
improve the home and function of the ecosystem,” said
Chandra. — Reuters
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Brussels art fair
ntrepid boy hero Tintin stars at one of
Europe’s top art fairs next week when the
original cover of his 1942 “Shooting Star”
adventures goes on sale for 2.5 million
The yellowing sketch by Belgian creator
Herge shows Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy on
a barren rocky beach looking in astonishment at a
huge mushroom.
In its finished form, brightly coloured, the redand white capped mushroom looks like a wellknown and very dangerous psychedelic fungus.
The drawing has attracted huge interest from
fans and collectors alike who are increasingly
prepared to pay huge sums for such iconic works.
A rare 1939 Tintin cartoon sold for 539,880
euros in December while in May, a two-page
spread depicting Tintin across various adventures
was bought for 2.65 million euros in Paris, a world
record equal to $3.58 million at then prevailing
exchange rates.
It was all very different not so long ago.
“Twenty-five years ago when you went to a
comic strip creator like Tardi to buy a cover, they
would look at you oddly as if to say ‘and who on
earth is interested in that’,” said Alain Huberty,
part-owner of the local gallery selling the cartoon
at the Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair.
The “Shooting Star” cover — “L’Etoile
Mysterieuse” in the original French — is just one
of five still in the hands of private collectors while
the bulk of Herge’s work is now held by a family
foundation set up after his death in 1983.
Such cartoons first attracted collectors in the
1980s who would often sell them on to specialist
bookshops, eventually drawing in the public and
then the auction houses as their creators won
recognition as artists in their own right.
Herge was among the first sought out, followed
by other major talents in the Franco-Belgian stable
such as Franquin, responsible for Spriou and
Gaston LaGaffe, Peyo who gave the world The
Smurfs and Jacques Martin with Alix.
“The price is determined first by the name and
then by the quality,” said Huberty.
“An exceptional piece can command an
exceptional price, as the Tintin sales show.”
At the same time, Huberty cautioned against
getting carried away, warning that there could be a
“bubble” building in prices for second-rank works
but not for the greats such as Herge.
In the United States there is huge interest in
cartoon books, elevated to pop art form by the
iconic paintings of Roy Lichtenstein and providing
the inspiration for a cast of superheroes and villains
likely to be on a cinema screen near you right now.
A near-flawless edition of the first book
featuring Superman dating from June 1938 fetched
$3.2 million in June, according to online auction
site e-Bay.
The seller Darren Adams, a collector in
Washington state, described it the time as possibly
the “best copy in existence”, the “Holy Grail” of
comic books.
Many in Belgium might dispute that claim and
be prepared to back their view with hard cash.
The Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair (www. opens on January 24 for a week. — AFP
New Kids on the Block: New
boy bands can learn from us
New Kids on
the Block
members (from
left) Joey
McIntyre, Danny
Wood, Donnie
Jordan Knight
and Jonathan
announce their
“The Main
Event” tour at
Madison Square
Garden in New
York. — AP
ew Kids on the Block are ready to
take new boy bands on the block to
school. The Boston-based veteran
group, which announced a summer tour with
TLC and Nelly this week, said contemporary
boy bands should check out their live concerts
to learn from the experts.
“As far as boy bands, you know, we dance,
we perform. I mean, I hate to sound like an old
fogey, but these kids don’t know what they’re
missing nowadays because we got to sing and
dance for our supper, you know what I mean,
and we love to do that,” Joey McIntyre, 42, said
in an interview New York City.
“So maybe a few kids could come to the
show and see how it’s done.” The Main Event
tour kicks off May 1 in Las Vegas.
Tickets go on sale on January 31. In the
last few years, boy bands have resurged, with
One Direction leading the pack, followed by 5
Seconds of Summer. Others, from The Wanted
to Mindless Behaviour, have had some success.
Donnie Wahlberg, 45, said the decades-long
bond between New Kids on the Block and
their fans makes it worthwhile. “I would rather
have the credibility of thousands of fans and
have them be happy.
That’s what we’ve learned and that’s why
we’re still here,” Wahlberg said.”We keep it
alive because it stays alive between us and our
fans. It’s a real relationship now.” Wahlberg
and McIntyre, along with band-mates Danny
Wood and brothers Jordan and Jonathan
Knight, began playing together more than 30
years ago.
They said they’re excited to share a stage
with one of the top-selling female groups of
all-time and the multi-platinum Nelly.
“It’s always nice to go out onstage and know
there might be some people out there that
haven’t seen what you do, so you’re engaging
with them. — AP
Blur frontman writes Alice in Wonderland musical
by Brian Basset
lur frontman Damon Albarn
has written the score for a
musical version of “Alice in
Wonderland” which re-imagines the
classic tale of a girl’s fantasy world in
the Internet era.
will premiere at the Manchester
International Festival in July before
heading to London’s National
Theatre later in the year and the
Theatre du Chatelet in Paris in 2016.
The National Theatre, announcing
“” as it revealed its
upcoming season, said the musical
would offer a modern, high-tech
twist to Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
in which young Alice falls into a
rabbit hole and discovers a strange
new universe.
In “,” written by
Moira Buffini, the girl Aly is bullied
at school but goes online as Alice
and finds self-confidence in a world
of virtual reality and struggles to
discern what is real.
“I’m fascinated by the idea
of going down a rabbit hole, the
otherworldliness and what that
might mean,” Albarn said in a
by Bill Watterson
by Jim Davis
“Alice aside, the Queen of Hearts,
the Duchess, White Rabbit (and)
Caterpillar were the most threatening
characters of my childhood. I was
genuinely very frightened of them
as a kid,” he said of the original
Albarn previously experimented
with virtual reality by creating the
band Gorillaz, whose members were
imaginary even if the music was real.
Albarn, 46, became one of
the most identifiable faces of
Britpop as the frontman
of Blur in the 1990s but
has since experimented
widely in format and has
written two operas, “Dr
Dee” and the Chineseinspired
Journey to the West.”
Stage productions can often be
unforgiving to musicians used to
strong album sales. Sting’s Broadway
musical, “Last Ship,” is closing
Saturday after just three months,
even though the singer stepped in to
try to revive sales. — AFP
This file photo shows Damon
Albarn performing during
the ‘Primavera 0’ (Spring 0)
festival in Montevideo,
Uruguay. — AFP
by Jan Eliot
Hospital . . .Board . . . . . .Emergency
Royal . . . . .24599000 . . .24590491
Health Services Department
Muttrah . . . . . 24797602
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SQH, Salalah 23211555
Police . . . . . . 24603988
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Nizwa . . . . . . 25439361
Al Rustaq . . . 26875055
Sumayil. . . . . 25350055
Izki . . . . . . . . 25340033
The coming year
will bring some
intricate problems
connected with
your occupation.
You will not make a
great deal of money
the easy way and
will have to rely
on persistence
and hard work.
Don’t avoid your
obligations and
don’t bank on there
being a short cut to
Haima. . . . . . 23436013 . .
Sohar . . . . . . 26840022 . .
Al Buraimi. . . 25650855 . .
Sur . . . . . . . . 25440244 . .
Tanam. . . . . . 25499011 . .
Masirah. . . . . 25404018 . .
Ibra . . . . . . . . 25470533 . .
Adam . . . . . . 25434167 . .
Bidiya . . . . . . 25483535 . .
Ibri. . . . . . . . . 25491011 . .
Saham . . . . . 26854427 . .
Khasab . . . . . 26830187 . .
Dibba . . . . . . 26836443 . .
Burkha . . . . . 26828397 . .
Sinaw . . . . . . 25474338
January 21February 19
February 20March 20
March 21April 20
April 21May 20
May 21June 21
June 22July 21
A letter from abroad will announce the forthcoming visit
of a dear old friend whom you
have not seen for a good many
There is a very good chance that
the next step up the promotion
ladder is coming your way at last
so keep giving of your best and
the reward will come.
If you can keep quiet about a misunderstanding which you have had with
your nearest and dearest it will be easier to put right than if you go telling
others about it.
A highly-strung child will require
special care. Your extreme patience and loving understanding
will soon gain his confidence and
he will begin to improve.
You will find a very good partner for
your new project in a person born
under LIBRA but it is essential that
you discuss it in full before committing yourself.
An aggressive and selfish attitude will naturally cause resentment in others. The question is
will it bring you nearer to your
July 22August 21
August 22September 22
September 23October 22
October 23November 21
November 22December 21
December 22January 20
Family obligations will have to make
way for the longer working hours that
your well-earned promotion is likely
to entail. Somebody else will have to
host the family Christmas this year.
Persevere with your efforts to
convince some of the members
of your family that you are quite
capable of managing your own affairs.
However great the temptation
may be you will always regret
your actions if you are persuaded
to depart from your strict code of
Misplaced loyalty must not prevent you from trying to improve
yourself if there is not much hope
for advancement in your present
You may be losing your right
hand man soon and a great deal
of patience will be needed to
train the replacement in your
An unexpected invitation will
give you an insight into the
lives of people completely removed from your usual social
Katrina shoots with visually
impaired photographer
Aniston goes deglam in ‘Cake’
h, to de-glam. It’s one
of the surest shortcuts
to newfound artistic
bedraggled deviation
into dowdy drama by
a beautiful star.
Acclaim by way of sweatpants.
Cake, in which Jennifer Aniston plays a
bitterly grieving, caustically acerbic and
chronically pained Los Angeles woman,
belongs to a contrived kind of lowbudget movie — drab and depressed,
but predictably poignant — just as
artificial as any blockbuster convention.
As Claire Simmons, Aniston has
facial scars, stringy hair and a slightly
frumpier frame.
But this is also a very recognisable
Aniston, whose deserved appeal has
always depended on marrying her pert
all-American girl-next-door with a glib
In Cake, she has turned up her
cynicism nob as far as it will go. She
lives largely holed up in her handsomely
designed suburban LA home, popping
pills, struggling with sleeplessness and
haunted by appearances of a friend
(Anna Kendrick) from her self-help
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of
‘Cake’ at Arclight Cinemas in Los
Angeles. — AP
group who committed suicide by leaping
from a highway overpass.”Way to go,
Nina!” Claire announces to the group,
prompting its leader (Felicity Huffman)
to show her the door. Claire’s Mexican
housekeeper Silvana (an exceptional
Adriana Barraza) cooks food she won’t
eat and shuttles her around town,
usually in the pursuit of more pills.
Claire lies reclined in the passenger
seat, laid flat by back pain from the
vaguely referenced car crash that left her
Whatever the particulars, the
accident’s trauma is eventually clear
enough: Claire lost her son in it. She
crankily putters around, lashing out
at most, lonely from the absence of
her husband (Chris Messina), who,
like everyone else, tired of her hostile
moping. All but Silvana have deserted
her. The audience is tested, too. Cake,
directed by Daniel Barnz from a
screenplay by Patrick Tobin, is in many
ways less about Claire’s threshold for
pain than our tolerance for hers.
In one telling scene with her fed-up
physical therapist (Mamie Gummer),
Claire confronts her, insisting that her
pain isn’t an act, it’s real.
The therapist responds with a
question: Do you want to get better,
really? The film very slowly builds to the
always-expected catharsis.
Barnz hides all images of Claire’s son
until one late, crushing jolt of pathos,
a decision that could be said to be
But the blankness to Claire’s history
also reflects the point of the film: We
don’t see the wounds people are carrying
around, even in the broad daylight of the
California sun.
Would we have stuck it out with
Claire? But by never fleshing out Claire’s
life, Cake never expands beyond a
wallowing in pain, which starts to feel
more and more like a concept rather
than a deep emotion. Cake is fine
enough, though neither as funny nor as
powerful as it thinks it is.
Yet it’s a failure of today’s movies
that the only pathway to “serious”
recognition for an actress like Aniston is
by suffocating her buoyant charm.
She’s a sly comedic performer with
a keen sense of timing and an inherent
likability that a decade of perpetual
tabloid obsession has failed to smother.
So where are the smart, witty romantic
comedies she deserves? Instead, Aniston
has been left to strip in “We’re the
Millers” and play the sexy dominatrix of
two “Horrible Bosses” movies.
No wonder she’s so bent out of shape
in Cake. Cake, a Cinelou release, is
rated R for “language, substance abuse
and brief sexuality.” Running time: 98
Two stars out of four. MPAA
definition of R: Restricted. Under 17
requires accompanying parent or adult
guardian. — AP
photographs with his hands.
“With every photograph I took,
her fragrance formed a vision in my
mind,” Patel said in a statement.
Patel, born visually impaired,
not only has a nose for fragrances
and ears to catch sound action, but
an acute sense to judge distances
between his camera and subjects and
how to use new technology for good
On the film front, Katrina will be
seen next in Phantom opposite Saif
Ali Khan and in Jagga Jasoos with
Ranbir Kapoor.
Fergie opts for marriage
therapy with hubby
inger Fergie says that she and her
husband Josh Duhamel have embraced
therapy to make sure their relationship
stays strong.
The 39-year-old opened up about her
relationship with Duhamel in an interview
with Allure Magazine for its February issue,
reports Fergie says her
husband is “not afraid” to attend the therapy.
“He doesn’t feel like he’s not man enough,”
she said. The “Fergalicious” hitmaker and
Duhamel have sorted out some rules to keep their relationship strong
between their heavy schedules.
“My husband and I made a two-week rule. We’ve already talked about how
we’re going to have to trade off,” she said.
“He’s going to have to come on tour with Axl for a while, and then there’ll
be a break. He’ll take a job; I’ll be on set with (Axl).You know,” she added.
Fergie also shared some of the secrets about her husband.
“I mean, he’s walked in on me during my bikini waxing, and I’m like, ‘Okay
honey, hi.’ And I’m on all fours, but he doesn’t just leave; he gets curious,” she
Musical night to commemorate
50 years of K J Yesudas
opular orchestra troupe Lakshman
Sruthi will pay tribute to legendary singer
K J Yesudas, 75, in Chennai on Sunday to
commemorate his 50 glorious years in the field
of music. He will also be felicitated at the event.
“We are very happy and proud to inform you
all that a grand musical night has been planned
by Tharangini, V Records and Raj Events to
felicitate Padma Bhushan K J Yesudas, who has
completed 50 plus years of successful singing
career with more than 50,000 songs to his
credit,” read a statement.
The event will take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium.
“Leading Indian film actors, actresses, prominent music directors, singers,
directors, producers, technicians and personalities from various fields will
decorate the show and honour Yesudas,” added the statement.
Some of Yesudas’s best songs include “Theivam Thandha Veedu”, “Athisaya
Raagam”, “Vizhiye Kathai Ezhuthu” and “En Iniya Pon Nilavae”. — IANS
eyes Tamil cinema
ndian German actress Evelyn Sharma,
who has starred in Hindi films such as
Nautanki Saala and Yaariyaan, says
she’s keen to expand her base in Tamil
cinema as she wants explore a “new side”
of herself.
“Evelyn is believed to be in Chennai
for work purpose and has meetings lined
up with a few leading producers. She will
spend two days in the city meeting a couple
of actors and producers to discuss probable
work opportunities and if all goes well,
ctress Katrina Kaif posed for
a photoshoot with visually
Bhavesh Patel for a global beauty
The photographs, which bring
out the feminine sensuality of the
actress, were captured by Patel for
Lux. A video of the photoshoot was
launched on video-sharing website
on Wednesday.
The video, titled ‘Perfume
Portraits’, features Katrina posing
in a purple gown. It also shows the
photographer feeling the actress’
she’ll make her Tamil film debut real
soon,” a source close to Evelyn said.
“Evelyn has in the past
auditioned for roles but never did
the movie considering the language
barriers. However, after having faced
the camera in Bollywood, she now
feels she is ready to take on a challenge,”
added the source.
Evelyn has also starred in films
such as Issaq and Main Tera Hero. —
Meghan Trainor didn’t know Harry Styles knew her
inger Meghan Trainor says she
thought that One Direction
band member Harry Styles
never even knew she existed before
they worked together, but he
dispelled her notion.
The 21-year-old star, who shot to
fame last year when her single “All
about that bass” hit the number one
spot around the world, has teamed
up with the One Direction singer to
write a song.
It is yet to be recorded and when
she got over the shock, she was “very
impressed” with his songwriting
ability, reports
“I had no idea he knew I existed
and apparently he was a fan and one
of our agents hooked us up and got
us a session and we just wrote one
It was unbelievable he’s a very,
very talented songwriter. I was very
impressed,” she said speaking on
BBC Radio 1.
Trainor received a Record of the
Year nomination for the Grammy
Awards for her hit single, “All about
that bass” and while she admits it is a
“dream come true” to be recognised
for the accolade, she is “nervous”
about the ceremony on February 8
because she hasn’t decided what to
“I have no idea what I’m wearing.
They claim that someone’s going to
build one for me...
I wasn’t nervous until I saw the
Golden Globes and everyone was
all over Lorde saying, ‘What’s she
gonna wear’,” she said.
Meanwhile, Meghan Trainor’s
debut album ‘Title’ knocked Taylor
Swift from her three-week perch
atop the weekly Billboard album
chart on Wednesday.
‘Title’, which has been buoyed
by Trainor’s No 1 single ‘All About
That Bass’ and follow-up hit ‘Lips
Are Movin,’ sold 195,000 albums,
377,000 song downloads and
nearly 8 million streams, according
to figures compiled by Nielsen
Under the revamped Billboard
chart, that counted for 238,000
total sales units, besting the 131,000
in sales for Swift’s ‘1989’, which
dropped to No 2 on the chart. ‘1989’
has been the top album for nine of
its 12 weeks in release.
Trainor’s debut — an expansion
on her 2014 EP of the same name
— comes three weeks ahead of
the Grammy Awards where the
21-year-old singer-songwriter is
nominated for song and record of
the year for ‘All About That Bass,’
a 1960s-inflected pop song about
female body types.
The song spent eight consecutive
weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100
song chart last year.
Other new releases in the top 10
include ‘Kidz Bop 27,’ a collection
of pop hits sung by children, at No
3 and pop producer Mark Ronson’s
‘Uptown Special’ at No 5.
Ronson and singer Bruno Mars’
hit ‘Uptown Funk!’ was the top
downloaded song on the digital
songs chart for the third consecutive
week with 400,000 in sales, a rise of
60,000 downloads from last week.
Latam bourses to offer sector indexes Asia stock markets mostly higher Ebay to slash 2,400 jobs FOLLOW US ON:
India’s Suzlon sells
German unit
MUMBAI: Troubled Indian wind energy
giant Suzlon said yesterday it had
agreed to sell its German arm Senvion
for 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) to cut
its growing debt levels. The firm was
once a star of India’s green technology
industry, but has suffered mounting
losses as the global economic crisis hit
sales of its wind turbines.
In a statement to the Bombay Stock
Exchange, Suzlon said it hoped to close
the sale of Senvion to the US private
equity firm Centre-bridge Partners by
March 31. “The proceeds would be used
for debt repayment thereby reducing
interest cost and augment business
growth,” said the group’s chairman Tulsi
Google to launch
cellular service
[email protected]
STIMULUS PLAN: The greatest fear in Germany is that the measure will take the pressure off governments to reform
ECB prepares heavy artillery in deflation battle
FRANKFURT: Global investors were
anxiously awaiting the European Central
Bank’s first policy meeting of the year
on Thursday, expecting it to announce
a massive bond-buying programme to
stimulate the struggling euro zone.
Speculation has reached fever pitch
that ECB president Mario Draghi will
use his most powerful policy tool yet in
the battle against deflation in the euro
area although analysts have warned that
high hopes could be dashed.
The expected programme of
sovereign bond purchases, known as
quantitative easing (QE), comes after
euro zone inflation turned negative in
December, stoking fears that the region
is on the brink of a dangerous spiral of
falling prices.
Draghi and his colleagues on the
ECB’s executive board have been busy
priming the markets for action ever
Following rate cuts and a range
of unprecedented measures to pump
liquidity into the financial system, QE is
seen as the ultimate weapon in the ECB’s
However, the German central bank
or Bundesbank believes QE takes the
ECB outside its remit and is effectively
a licence to print money to get
governments out of debt.
Economists are also divided as to
whether quantitative easing can really
work in a single currency bloc made up
of 19 economies in very different states
of health.
The greatest fear in Germany,
Europe’s paymaster, is that the measure
will take the pressure off governments
to reform their economies and get their
finances in shape.
“The ECB can only be part of a fix
in Europe. In my view they shouldn’t go
too far because the more they do, there
is the incentive for governments to do
less,” said former Bundesbank chief Axel
Weber at the World Economic Forum in
the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
“And the problem is if you continue
to buy time and the time is not used for
reforms, you have to ask yourself if more
of the same is the best recipe,” he said.
Another German, the ECB’s own
former chief economist, Juergen Stark
-- who, like Weber stepped down in
2011 because he disagreed with the
“The ECB can only be part
of a fix in Europe. In my
view they shouldn’t go too
far because the more they
do, there is the incentive for
governments to do less”
which the national central banks will
only be allowed to buy the sovereign
debt of their respective countries and
Germany, Europe’s paymaster, will
not be on the hook to bail out another
Minister Michel Sapin said the ECB
had a task to do and Germans should
be mindful of the central bank’s
Capital Economics economist
Jonathan Loynes said that past experience
“suggests that, when your economy and
banking system is weak, you need to do
an awful lot of QE to have an impact on
growth and inflation.” So far, expectations
had centred around a QE programme
of the magnitude of around 500 billion
euros ($579 billion).
The new European Central Bank headquarters is pictured in Frankfurt. — Reuters
turn the central bank’s policy decisions
had taken -- said fears about deflation
were “completely exaggerated” and were
being invoked merely to push through
The finance minister for the regional
state of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, warned
of the “dangerous consequences” of QE.
Countries such as France and Italy
would just sit back and let the ECB do
the work, instead of reforming their
economies, he said.
“The euro is in danger of becoming
a soft currency. That can’t be in the
interests of currency union,” Soeder said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
also warned that the wrong signals
could be sent regarding the necessity of
economic reforms.
In order to placate such concerns,
there has been some speculation that a
revised scheme had been devised under
Hyundai Motor reports earnings drop Venezuela’s Maduro hikes
NEW YORK: Google is getting ready to
sell wireless telephone services directly
to US consumers after reaching deals
with carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, US
media reported.
The move is likely to have big
impacts on the US wireless industry,
potentially resulting in price cuts and
improved speeds.
The news was first reported by technews publication The Information and
corroborated by an article in the Wall
Street Journal.
Google officials have been working
on the wireless project for more than
a year, the Journal reported, citing an
unnamed person familiar with the
LG to launch
curved G Flex 2
SEOUL: LG Electronics Inc. said
it will start selling a new curved
smartphone next week in its latest
effort to bring the curve to a mass
The South Korean company
said Thursday that the G Flex 2 will
be launched locally on Jan. 30 and
overseas in coming months.
Curved screens are a way of
differentiating high smartphones
that have come to share many similar
features such as high resolution
displays and powerful cameras.
When LG released its first version of
a curved smartphone in 2013, it was
a niche product. The latest iteration
shows LG is targeting a bigger market.
The phone features a 5.5-inch
screen curved from top to bottom. In
an improvement from its predecessor,
the phone’s self-healing back can
repair scratches in seconds rather
than minutes. LG said both the screen
and the body are more resilient to
shocks than other phones.
LG’s hometown rival Samsung
Electronics Co. is also experimenting
with curved screens. Last year,
Samsung released the Galaxy
Note 4 Edge, which has a screen
on its curved edge that displays
information. — AP
SEOUL: Hyundai Motor Co. suffered
a drop in quarterly earnings and is
forecasting weak sales growth this year
after falling behind competitors in
factory expansions.
South Korea’s largest automaker said
yesterday its September-December net
income dropped 22 per cent from a
year earlier to 1.66 trillion won ($1.53
The median expectation of analysts
surveyed by financial data provider
FactSet was a 2 trillion won profit. Sales
rose 8 per cent to 23.6 trillion won.
Hyundai blamed unfavourable
foreign exchange rates for the lower
earnings. Even though the South
Korean won fell against the US dollar
in favour of Hyundai, it rose against
the Russian ruble and the currencies of
other emerging market nations.
The automaker also had to give more
incentives to consumers in the US to
An employee talks on the phone at a
Hyundai dealership in Seoul
yesterday. — Reuters
weather competition and to boost sales
of older models, such as the Elantra.
For this year, Hyundai forecast
sales will grow just 1.8 per cent to 5.05
million vehicles, the weakest growth
in recent years. The company expects
to begin production at a new factory
in China next year, but until then its
existing factories are operating at full
capacity, leaving no room to boost sales
“It is true that there are concerns
about losing market share as the overall
industry is expected to grow 3.9 per
cent,” Lee Won Hee, chief financial
officer at Hyundai Motor, said at an
earnings conference call. “We will try to
surpass our 5.05 million goals.”
Hyundai will try to improve
productivity at existing facilities, which
helped the company to exceed its sales
target in 2014.
Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s
fifth-largest automaker that comprises
Hyundai and Kia Motors Corp., earlier
this month forecast the weakest sales
growth in more than a decade. It said
Hyundai and Kia sales combined would
grow 2.5 per cent this year.
The group, however, announced
a record investment plan totaling 81
trillion won ($73.6 billion) over the next
four years on factories, research and a
new headquarters.
— AP
wages, keeps multiple rates
CARACAS: With Venezuela’s economy
in crisis, President Nicolas Maduro
announced a 15 per cent hike in the
minimum wage, and plans to keep a
multi-tiered exchange rate system in
“This whole exchange system is
a transitional system,” the president
said in an annual address in which
many Venezuelans — exhausted by 64
per cent inflation; food shortages and
rationing — had hoped for news of
major economic policy changes.
Maduro did not give much detail on
the exchange rates other than to say that
one — for food and medicine — would
be at 6.3 to the US dollar. The black
market rate is about 177 bolivars to the
His economic team will speak on
the rate system soon, said Maduro,
the socialist successor of the late Hugo
Venezuela was already mired in
economic woes before oil began its
recent slide, but the sharp downturn
in crude prices has been especially
punishing for a country that relies on oil
for 96 per cent of its foreign currency.
Analysts say the South American
country, which sits on the biggest oil
reserves in the world, needs oil to sell
at $100 a barrel to maintain its budget.
Yet oil “is not going back to 100
dollars a barrel,” Maduro acknowledged,
also raising the issue of the need to
discuss raising prices for subsidised
gasoline — the world’s lowest priced .
In 2013, Caracas spent $15 billion
on that subsidy alone.
The last piece of the economic puzzle is starting to come together now as housing construction is coming back
US single-family housing starts highest since 2008
WASHINGTON: Ground-breaking
for US single-family homes raced to the
highest level in more than 6-1/2 years
in December and permits surged, in a
hopeful sign for the sluggish housing
market recovery.
Housing has lagged an acceleration
in economic growth, but Wednesday’s
report hinted at a pick-up in activity.
That should help to further
fundamentals as it confronts headwinds
from slowing global growth.
“The last piece of the economic
puzzle is starting to come together now
as housing construction is coming back.
The housing market is continuing to
heal,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial
economist at MUFG Union Bank in
New York. The Commerce Department
said that single-family housing starts,
the largest part of the market, jumped
Tepid wage growth has
constrained housing,
sidelining first-time buyers
from the market and forcing
many young adults, most
of whom are saddled with
college debts, to stay at
home with their parents
A construction
worker is seen
building single
family homes in
San Diego,
California. —
7.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted
annual pace of 728,000-units — the
highest level since March 2008.
That offset a 0.8 per cent fall in
ground-breaking for the volatile multifamily homes segment, lifting overall
housing starts 4.4 per cent to a 1.09
million-unit rate last month.
Wall Street had forecast starts rising
to a 1.04 million-unit pace.
Homebuilder shares were trading
higher on the data, helping the housing
index to outperform the broader US
stock market. DR Horton, the largest
homebuilder, rose 0.65 per cent, while
Lennar Corp gained 1.03 per cent and
Pulte Group was up 0.19 per cent.
A separate report from the
Mortgage Bankers Association showed
applications for loans to buy homes fell
3 per cent last week after a 24 per cent
surge in the week ending January 9.
Tepid wage growth has constrained
housing, sidelining first-time buyers
from the market and forcing many
young adults, most of whom are
saddled with college debts, to stay
at home with their parents or share
lodgings with relatives and friends.
The resulting weak household
formation, in particular, has hurt
residential construction. Household
formation is currently running at about
500,000 a year, far below the more than
1-million mark that would signal a
robust housing market.
But with wage growth expected
to pick up, the 30-year mortgage
rate down more than 80 basis points
from early 2014 and moves by the
government to ease credit conditions,
housing is seen gaining momentum
this year and expected to help soften
the blow from slowing global economic
— Reuters
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Asia stock markets Integrated LatAm bourses to offer debt in 2016
mostly higher
MEXICO CITY: The Latin American
Integrated Market, or MILA, which
comprises the bourses of Chile,
Colombia, Peru and Mexico, plans to
include debt instruments in 2016 and
indexes for sectors such as mining and
energy, top bourse officials said.
Marking the inclusion of Mexico
into the combined market, the officials
warned, however, that they expect a
slow pick-up in cross-market trading.
So far, just one trade has been made
by a Mexican brokerage using the
platform since early December.
Jose Oriol Bosch, chief executive of
Mexico’s stock exchange, said on the
sidelines of an event at the bourse in
Mexico City that MILA members were
looking at integrating several indexes,
but had not set a date yet.
Funds. “Fixed income is a big challenge
that we have to implement.
There are a series of regulatory issues,”
he said, adding that MILA planned to
offer debt instrument trading in 2016.
MILA was formed in 2011 to boost
market liquidity within the Pacific
Alliance trade group, and the tieup aims to create more business for
financial markets in the region.
The Pacific Alliance, created in 2012,
is an economic bloc that includes MILA’s
members and represents about 35 per
cent of Latin America’s gross domestic
Mexico’s Deputy Finance Minister Fernando Aportela (2nd L) along with heads of
product. With Mexico’s bourse joining
Latam bourses attend an event as part The Latin American Integrated Market, or
MILA, at the Mexico’s stock exchange building in mexico City.
— Reuters MILA, the platform now includes
790 shares with a combined market
capitalization of around $950 billion, said
Francis Stenning, head of the Lima were open to including a host of Jose Antonio Martinez, chief executive of
stock exchange, said MILA members instruments, such as Exchange Traded the Santiago Stock Exchange. — Reuters
Investors look at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage
house in Haikou, Hainan province yesterday. — Reuters
HONG KONG: Asian markets
extended their rally this week, while
the euro dipped ahead of a muchanticipated European Central Bank
policy meeting that is forecast to see
it introduce more monetary easing
Tokyo added 0.28 per cent, or 48.54
points, to end at 17,329.02, Sydney
rose 0.49 per cent, or 26.52 points, to
5,419.90 and Seoul was flat, dipping a
marginal 0.41 points to 1,920.82.
Hong Kong and mainland China
stocks closed higher yesterday. The
benchmark Hang Seng Index added
170.05 points, or 0.70 per cent, to
24,522.63 on turnover of HK$ 99.46
billion (US$12.83 billion).
In mainland China, the benchmark
Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.59
per cent, or 19.73 points, to 3,343.34 on
turnover of 407.9 billion yuan ($65.7
The index jumped 4.74 per cent
on Wednesday, the biggest one-day
rise since October 2009, and it has
recovered almost all the losses it made
on Monday in reaction to a regulatory
crackdown on margin trading.
The Shenzhen Composite Index,
which tracks stocks on China’s second
exchange, gained 1.19 per cent, or 17.99
points, to 1,530.28 on turnover of 288.4
billion yuan. Wall Street took its rally
into a third day on Wednesday, the Dow
ending up 0.22 per cent, the S&P 500
adding 0.47 per cent and the Nasdaq
0.27 per cent higher.
With traders placing bets on a vast
round of easing the euro has been
hammered in the past few weeks,
especially as it comes just a few months
after the US Federal Reserve wound up
its own QE programme and considers
an interest rate hike this year.
At one point last week the single
currency fell below $1.1500 for the first
time since late 2003.
In afternoon trade on Thursday
it bought $1.1582 and 136.79 yen
compared with $1.1607 and 136.85 yen
in US trade.
“The euro decision is kind of well
telegraphed but euro-dollar does have
more to go on the downside,” Thomas
Averill, a managing director in Sydney
at Rochford Capital, told Bloomberg
News. “The euro zone economy seems
pretty sluggish at the moment and
needs QE.” The dollar was 118.07 yen
against 117.90 yen in New York.
Oil prices resumed their downtrend
after enjoying a rare fillip on Wednesday.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate
(WTI) for March delivery fell 29 cents
to $47.49 and Brent shed six cents to
$48.97. On Wednesday WTI jumped
$1.31 and Brent climbed $1.04. Gold
fetched $1,287.53 an ounce, against
$1,300.64 late on Wednesday. — AFP
Ebay to cut 2,400 jobs
in bid to compete
NEW YORK: E-commerce giant eBay
will slash 2,400 jobs — seven per cent of
its workforce — in the current quarter
as it restructures and prepares to spin
off its PayPal finance unit, it said on
California-based eBay unveiled the
move even as it announced its profit in
the fourth quarter rose to $936 million
on $4.9 billion in revenue.
The job cuts will be across eBay’s
three divisions: Marketplaces, Enterprise
and PayPal. “We are on the right strategic
path, and we are acting decisively and
aggressively as we position eBay and
PayPal for success,” eBay CEO John
Donahoe said.
The reorganization will return eBay
to its roots with the “Marketplaces”
division, which includes its auctions
and online retail sales and accounted for
nearly half its 2014 revenues.
Donahoe said the job cuts were
necessary “to simplify the organization,
reduce complexity, speed decision
making and create competitive cost
eBay announced plans last year
to spin off PayPal amid pressure from
activist shareholder Carl Icahn, and
said the move would help the unit
compete better in the fast-moving online
payments segment.
In a further move to refocus,
eBay said it would likely also shed its
Enterprise division, which creates online
sites for traditional retailers, in a sale or
public offering to create an independent
“Enterprise is a strong business and
a leading partner for large retailers,
managing mission-critical components
of their e-commerce initiatives,” a
statement said.
“However, it has become clear that it
has limited synergies with either business
The entrance of eBay headquarters is
seen in San Jose, California. — AFP
and a separation will allow both to focus
exclusively on their core markets, as
we create two independent world-class
eBay said it reached a “standstill
agreement” with Icahn that calls for Icahn
Capital executive Jonathan Christodoro
to be named to eBay’s board. Icahn said
in a separate statement that Christodoro
would “have the ability to transition to
PayPal’s board once the spinoff occurs.”
The deal also includes limits on any
“poison pill” for PayPal that could block
a proposed buyout.
“PayPal’s charter documents
will contain a number of corporate
governance provisions that we suggested
and which we believe will greatly enhance
shareholder value at PayPal,” Icahn said.
Donahoe said the overall company is
in good shape ahead of the reorganization,
which will spin off PayPal in the second
half of the year.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, net
income rose 10 per cent to $936 million,
exceeding analyst forecasts.
“In a year of unexpected events and
distractions, we ended 2014 with doubledigit revenue growth, solid earnings
growth and strong cash flow, reflecting
the fundamental strengths of our
company,” Donahoe said.
JANUARY 23 l 2015
Messi hands Barca slender Cup lead
CONFIDENT: Atletico boss Simeone is confident that his in-form side can turn tie on its head at home
Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver dunks over Indiana Pacers’
Damjan Rudez in Atlanta.
— AP
Hawks match
club record with
14th win in row
ATLANTA: Matching a team record with their 14th
consecutive victory, the Atlanta Hawks also made
Mike Budenholzer an all-star coach by virtue of
Wednesday’s 110-91 rout of the Indiana Pacers.
Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll each scored 10 of
their team-high 17 points in the third quarter, when
the host Hawks outscored Indiana 36-23, shooting
14-of-21 from the floor including 6-of-9 from 3-point
range on the way to an 88-64 lead entering the fourth
The Hawks’ current win streak matches the 199394 edition of the team for the longest unbeaten run in
franchise history.
They could claim the record for themselves with a
home victory Friday over Oklahoma City, who edged
Washington 105-103 in overtime on Wednesday for a
fourth win in a row.
As a result of the The Hawks’ current
Atlanta win streak matches
improved to 35-8
the 1993-94 edition
and clinched the best
record in the Eastern of the team for the
on longest unbeaten
February 1, meaning
run in franchise
and history. They could
his staff will coach claim the record for
the East against the
themselves with
Western Conference
in the 64th NBA a home victory
All-Star Game on on Friday over
February 15 in New
Oklahoma City
Budenholzer, in
his second season
guiding the Hawks, has a 73-52 record with Atlanta
and becomes the first Hawks coach to coach an AllStar squad since Lenny Wilkens in 1994.
Al Horford scored 14 points, grabbed seven
rebounds and passed off five assists while Paul Millsap
added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Atlanta
Reserve CJ Miles led Indiana with 18 points. The
Pacers have lost six in a row and fell to 15-29. — AFP
Charlotte bt Miami 78-76
Cleveland bt Utah 106-92
Knicks bt Philadelphia 98-91
Atlanta bt Indiana 110-91
Detroit bt Orlando 128-118
Memphis bt Toronto 92-86
Dallas bt Minnesota 98-75
Orleans bt LA Lakers 96-80
Thunder bt Wizards 105-103
Phoenix bt Portland 118-113
Brooklyn bt Kings 103-100
Warriors bt Houston 126-113
MADRID: Lionel Messi struck five
minutes from time to hand Barcelona
a vital 1-0 lead heading into the second
leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal
with Atletico Madrid.
Atletico looked set to round
off a fine day for the club after the
confirmation that Chinese billionaire
Wang Jianlin will spend 45 million
euros ($52 million) for 20 per cent of
the club by holding out for a 0-0 draw.
However, Juanfran was penalised
for kicking Sergio Busquets inside the
area late on and Messi was relieved to
slot home at the second attempt after
seeing his penalty saved by Jan Oblak.
The two sides will meet again at
the Vicente Calderon in Madrid on
Wednesday, January 28.
“It’s a good result, but we’ve got
the return leg to go and that will be
another intense 90 minutes,” said
Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta.
“We’ve put in a great shift against a
team that’s really difficult to overcome.
“We’re happy to win 1-0. Keeping
a clean sheet is very important, but it
doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Atletico boss Diego Simeone
remains confident that his side’s
tremendous home form can see them
turn the tie on its head.
“We still have a chance against an
opponent that played very well. The tie
is still very open,” he said.
Fernando Torres was paired once
more with Antoine Griezmann
up front for Atletico after the pair
combined to allow Torres to score in
the opening minute of each half as they
secured a 4-2 aggregate win over Real
Madrid in the last 16 a week ago.
However, just like in their league
meeting 10 days ago, it was Barca who
made a fast start this time and Atletico
goalkeeper Oblak was forced into a
fine save to turn Neymar’s curling
effort behind after just four minutes.
Atletico weathered the early storm
without any further scares and grew
into the game. Torres saw a low shot
deflect wide off Gerard Pique, whilst
Guilherme Siqueira’s cross from the left
was just too high for Griezmann as the
Frenchman’s header sailed harmlessly
over. Barca’s best chance of the opening
half arrived 10 minutes before the
break when Ivan Rakitic’s ball into the
box landed at the feet of Luis Suarez,
but he somehow blazed over with just
Oblak to beat from point-blank range.
Torres then failed to find Griezmann
as he gifted the ball to Pique to end
a promising break and that was to
be the former Chelsea striker’s last
involvement as he was replaced at halftime by Mario Mandzukic.
A similar pattern ensued after
the break as Barca enjoyed plenty
of possession without being able to
create many clear-cut chances against
the well-organised ranks of Atletico
Quarterfinals, first leg
Villarreal 1 (Bruno 85) Getafe 0
Barcelona 1 (Messi 85) Atletico Madrid 0
Malaga 0 Athletic Bilbao 0
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi kicks to score a goal during their King’s Cup quarterfinal first leg match against
Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona.
— Reuters
Spurs take slender lead into second leg
LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur
have left themselves with much
to do before realising their hope
of reaching their first cup final at
Wembley in six years. Winning
the first leg of the semifinal of the
Capital One Cup, they take just a
one-goal advantage into the away
leg. That may not be enough for
the London side against Sheffield
United who despite being two
divisions lower in League One
showed great determination and
spirit to match their opponents.
Certainly there is confidence
in the northern team having
already beaten West Ham and
Southampton, two EPL sides
on their way to the last four. In
addition they also defeated another
Premier League team, Queens Park
Rangers, 3-0 in the FA Cup earlier
this month. No doubt such bravado
will put them in good heart on their
home ground next week.
Although it would be fair to say
Tottenham enjoyed more of the
possession and looked the likelier
winners it was by no means going
all their way. For that one must
give credit to both the visitors’
defence as well as their midfielders
particularly Michael Doyle and
Louis Reed who denied Spurs space
and thwarted several promising
Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier (right) jumps for the ball with Sheffield
United’s Marc McNulty at White Hart Lane in London.
moves. There were chances to score
that were missed by both sides as
the game progressed. In fact within
the first 10 minutes United would
have gone ahead when Doyle put
one effort over the bar while Spurs
were taking their time to get into
the game.
The home side too missed
chances perhaps their best
opportunity fell to Emmanuel
Adebayor, 30, captain for the day
in the absence of Younes Kaboul
and Hugo Lloris, who picked up a
long pass up field from Christian
Erikson but shot over the cross bar.
Adebayor, who was given a
yellow card after 20 minutes play
for pushing his left forearm in
Reed’s face as they both challenged
for the ball, was substituted later in
the game. He was in the starting
line up for the match for the first
time since November and made
little impression on the game. The
£ 100,000 Togo who last scored for
the club back in October, is down
on popularity with the fans and the
lack of application from him does
not help.
It was in the 74th minute When
Spurs finally went in the lead. Jan
Vertonghen lifted the ball from
the left and Roberto Soldado who
had replaced Adebayor in the
64th minute, controlled it well.
Jay McEveley who was close on
Soldado, raised his right arm in
appeal for off side and while looking
at the referee the ball hit him on the
left arm for a clear penalty. Andros
Townsend stepped forward to take
the spot kick and drove it into
the net beating the diving Mark
Howard who chose the correct side
for his attempt to save.
In the closing minutes Spur
were put under with the visitors
throwing players forward looking
for the equaliser. From their effort
on the night Sheffield United will
take both encouragement and
confidence into the second leg on
their own ground. Their manager,
Nigel Clough said: “It’s a little bit
mixed emotions we’re disappointed
not to come away with a draw. We
restricted them to a handful of
chances and we’re still in the game.”
Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs
manager said: “It was a very tough
game. But I think we deserved the
victory. “
Al Harthy was just a second off the pace-setters as Ashkanani emerged fastest at the Losail International Circuit
Ahmad shows promise in morning practice
Ahmed al Harthy during the morning practice in the Porsche GT3
Cup Challenge Middle East at the Losail Circuit in Doha.
DOHA: Oman’s Ahmed al Harthy was just
a second off the pace-setters in morning
practice of the region’s most competitive
racing series, the Porsche GT3 Cup
Challenge Middle East, ahead of the Round 3
race weekend at Losail International Circuit,
Qatar. Defending champion, Kuwait’s Zaid
Ashkanani, secured the fastest time of the
Previous editions of the Qatar rounds
have seen the drivers race under floodlights
in exciting night conditions.
In a change of timings Season 6 will see
them drive in daylight giving more meaning
to the practice times which now take place
under similar conditions where the sun is up
and the track temperature is high.
With two rounds complete Al Harthy will
be looking to Round 3 as an opportunity to
secure vital points in the Drivers’ Standings
and look to close on his Al Nabooda Racing
team-mate and current championship
leader, Clemens Schmid.
After picking up crucial in-car and ontrack experience the Qatar round represents
the perfect opportunity for the Omani driver
to show his promise and deliver at Losail.
Speaking after morning practice Ahmad
al Harthy said: “I’m happy enough with the
pace but there’s room for improvement.
The rain we’ve had in the last few days has
cleaned up the track so it’s definitely fast and
I feel like we’re getting the car into a good
place ahead of qualifying and then the first
race. It’s been a good season so far but I want
to push myself to do better and go further
so there’s an opportunity this weekend to do
just that. We’ve had a few ups and downs but
this weekend the conditions are good and
we’ll be going out to shake up the field and
put some points on the board.”
The region’s leading drivers will lineup in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup again as
the star attractions at Losail International
Circuit for Race 1 and 2 of Round 3 on
January 23 and 24.
Race 2 Round 2 – Top 6
(Read as name, country, team, points)
1. Clemens Schmid(UAE) Al Nabooda Racing 94
2. Zaid Ashkanani (Kuwait) BuzaidGT 90
3. Hasher al Maktoum (UAE) Skydive Dubai Falcons 84
4. Charlie Frijns (NED) Team Frijns 76
5. Saeed al Mehairi (UAE) Skydive Dubai Falcons 65
6. Raed Raffii (BAH) Team Bahrain 55
Top Omani
players make
impressive start
Abdullah al Barwani during
his first round match.
MUSCAT: Omani players made an
impressive start at the ISC-Muscat
Pharmacy Open Junior tennis
tournament organised by the Indian
Social Club Muscat which got under
way at the club’s court in Darsait.
Top Omani juniors Younis al
Rawahi, Abdullah al Barwani,
Zakariya al Suleimani, Muneer al
Rawahi, Samar al Bakri and Maryam
al Balushi are among the large number
of Omani players who will vie for top
Samar al Bakri is the top seed in the
girls under-18 followed by Maryam al
In first round action of the boys’
under-18 singles, second seed Younis
al Rawahi cruised to a one-sided 8-0
victory over Abhishek Chander and
third seed Abdullah al Barwani was
in his elements as he demolished
the hard-working Shlok Ail 8-1.
Other promising Omani players
making their mark on day one of the
tournament were Ammar al Khanjari
who steamrolled to a 8-0 blanking
of Rohit Thangamalai and Abdul
Rahman al Hajri who fought hard to
pull off a thrilling 8-6 victory over
Hassan Haider. When two breaks,
Abdul Rahman raced to a 6-3 lead but
a gallant fightback saw Hassan break
twice to narrow the deficit to 6-7.
Hassan failed to hold his next service
game which handed Abdulrahman a
passage into the second round.
Armaan Sattikar made an
impressive start with a 8-2 win over
Lakhmi Narayan, while Yash Tanna
overcame the loss of the very first
game and played attacking tennis to
down Anurag Kumar 8-1.
Vedanth Ram put in a strong
performance and demolished Gaurav
Anil Kumar 8-0 to move into the
second round.
Ahmad shows promise in Losail practice Omani players make impressive start Hawks match club record with 14th win FOLLOW US ON:
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Super Cahill powers Australia to semis
I have done better:
BRAVING ILLNESS: Son Heung-Min defied illness to lead South Korea into the last four past Uzbekistan
Cahill on bicycle-kick
BRISBANE: Tim Cahill said the stunning
bicycle-kick which sent China crashing
out of the Asian Cup was not even the
best of his career after he fired Australia
into the semifinals on Thursday.
Cahill said he had only ever scored
one other overhead, a sizzling equaliser
for Everton against Chelsea — adding
that the goal in late 2007 was probably
better. Asked whether he had scored
a bicycle-kick before, Cahill said: “One,
against Chelsea for Everton. I think that
one was a bit better but I’ll take this one
Cahill also netted Australia’s second
in the 2-0 win, a trademark header to
make it three goals for the tournament
and extend an Indian summer for him.
SA cruise to series
win over Windies
EAST LONDON, South Africa: On
a pitch which captain Jason Holder
admitted held no terrors, the West
Indies collapsed to 122 all out and
suffered a humiliating nine-wicket
defeat in the third one-day international
against South Africa at Buffalo Park on
Wednesday. Marlon Samuels made 26
but no other Windies batsmen reached
20 in a poor outing on a good pitch.
Man of the match Vernon Philander
took two wickets inside the first two
overs and finished with three for 27,
while leg-spinner Imran Tahir claimed
a career-best four for 28. South Africa
needed just 24.4 overs to complete a
series-clinching win.
Congo leap to top
of Group A
BATA, Equatorial Guinea: Unfancied
Republic of Congo went top of Group
A at the African Cup of Nations with
a surprise 1-0 win over Gabon on
Wednesday after hosts Equatorial
Guinea and Burkina Faso played out
a 0-0 draw.
The Congolese ground out a win
— their first at the tournament in
over 20 years — that will re-energise
their campaign, with Prince Oniangue
poking in from close range early
in the second half and against the
run of play. The result was unfair,
Gabon coach Jorge Costa said, as the
Gabonese did most of the attacking
and couldn’t find a finishing touch
to follow up their impressive win
over Burkina Faso in the first round
of games. “Football is like this...When
you make mistakes, you lose games.”
BRISBANE, Australia: Tim Cahill’s
brilliant double strike sank China and
took Australia into the Asian Cup semifinals on Thursday as Son Heung-Min
defied illness to lead South Korea into
the last four.
Hosts Australia had the upper hand
against China without crafting the
breakthrough, until 35-year-old Cahill
pulled out a stunning bicycle-kick just
after half-time. The latest uber-strike
from Cahill, whose World Cup volley
against the Netherlands was short-listed
for goal of the year, was followed by a
trademark header for the 2-0 win.
Australia’s victory ended an
encouraging tournament from China,
who won all three group games for the
first time to end their 11-year absence
from the knock-out stages.
The Socceroos will now face either
Japan or UAE at Newcastle’s modest
Hunter Stadium, the smallest of the
Asian Cup venues, on January 27.
“This is a big win for us, it’s something
that I knew deep down was going to
happen before the game, because I
believe in this team,” said Cahill.
“I had to wait for my chance and I
took two of them tonight out of three
and I’m pretty happy.”
The Socceroos deserved the win
against a willing but outgunned Chinese
side, who scrambled well in the first
half but folded under the weight of
possession enjoyed by the Australians.
After Cahill’s goals, China refused
to concede and they forced two diving
saves from Australian keeper Mathew
Ryan, but ultimately paid for their lack
of fire-power.
Earlier in Melbourne, Bayer
Leverkusen’s Son fought off the lingering
Australia’s Tim Cahill scores from a bicycle kick against China during the AFC Asia Cup quarterfinal in Brisbane. — AP
effects of a flu bug to strike twice in
extra time and see off Uzbekistan —
before being stretchered off due to sheer
The man dubbed ‘Sonaldo’ by his
team-mates scored with a diving header
after 104 minutes and slammed home a
second moments before the final whistle,
leaving on a stretcher with exhaustion
as the Koreans set up a meeting against
either Iran or Iraq in the last four.
“There was big pressure on us,” South
Korea coach Uli Stielike told reporters
after coaxing his team of walking
wounded to a fourth straight win. “If
we’d lost, we would have been on the
plane home and face a lot of criticism.”
Injuries had already ruled out winger
Lee Chung-Yong and midfielder Koo JaCheol, while superstar Son has yet to
fully regain fitness after being floored by
a flu bug earlier in the competition.
“No other team has had to show
such mental strength and sacrifice
as our boys,” added Stielike. “To lose
two of their leaders and still pick them
themselves up. I nearly didn’t pick Son
Azarenka beats Wozniacki to underline title credentials; Wawrinka and Raonic advance
Djokovic, Serena in Melbourne rush
MELBOURNE: Top seeds Novak
Djokovic and Serena Williams barely
moved out of second gear while
Victoria Azarenka underlined her
Australian Open pedigree as players
experienced the hottest conditions of
the championship so far on Thursday.
Four-time champion Djokovic only
needed to up his game after an hour
of his 6-0 6-1 6-4 victory over Andrey
Kuznetsov, while Williams had to be
on her mettle a little sooner following
some early resistance from former
world number two Vera Zvonareva.
Once the 18-times Grand Slam
singles champion got up to speed,
however, she cruised away from the
Russian with a 7-5, 6-0 victory during
the day session.
“Things really clicked. I had no
other option but for things to click,” the
American told reporters as she moved
into the third round and within sight of
a potential quarterfinal with Azarenka.
Twice champion Azarenka, whose
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after beating Caroline Wozniacki.
ranking has plummeted to 44 after she
was restricted to just nine tournaments
last year with foot and knee injuries,
proved she would not be kept down
for long as she hammered eighth seed
Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-2.
“I knew that I’m unseeded so I can
play anybody. I just accept whoever is
on the opposite side (and) I’m happy
with the way I stayed consistent
throughout the whole match,” she said.
“I think there’s always things you
can improve, but it’s a great progress
from one match to another.”
Woziniacki, a former world number
one, said while losing “sucks” she felt
her good friend was back to her best
already. “Her level, it’s high,” she said.”I
think she’s at the level that she left
when she stopped playing.”
Men’s champion Stan Wawrinka,
who beat Romanian qualifier Marius
Copil, the lowest ranked men’s player
in the second round at 194, and eighth
seed Milos Raonic, who dispatched
American Donald Young, also both
advanced after clinical victories.
Air temperatures had dropped
considerably for the later matches at
Melbourne Park, but had exceeded 35
Celsius during the day session, with
France’s Adrian Mannarino a notable
casualty. The 26-year-old held two
match points in the third set against
Feliciano Lopez before he was forced
to retire while trailing in the fourth.
Controversy also raged on Thursday
after a male TV interviewer had asked
seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard to
showcase her dress with a ‘twirl’ after her
second round victory on Wednesday.
The Canadian later said it was strange
to be asked to do such a thing, while
social and mainstream media went into
overdrive with accusations of sexism,
though Williams said there were more
important things to discuss. — AFP
because of his illness — he’s still not 100
per cent.
“I told the players this morning that
we are all human and everyone has a
shitty day. The problem is getting to 90
minutes and still being ready to push
through. The boys played 120 minutes
and they were all dead. Now our biggest
issue is medical.”
Steve Johnson (USA) bt Santiago Giraldo (COL) 6-3,
6-4, 6-2; John Isner (USA) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer
(AUT) 6-4, 7-6, (7/4), 4-6, 6-4; Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
bt Matthias Bachinger (GER) 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, 7-5;
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Alejandro Gonzalez
(COL) 6-1, 6-3, 6-3; Kei Nishikori (JPN) bt Ivan Dodig
(CRO) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7/0); Feliciano Lopez (ESP) bt
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 4-0 retired;
Novak Djokovic (SRB) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-0,
6-1, 6-4; Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt Marius Copil (ROU)
7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3; Gilles Muller (LUX) bt Roberto
Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 7-5, 6-1; Vasek
Pospisil (CAN) bt Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-7 (3/7), 7-6
(7/4), 6-3, 6-4; Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Marcel Granollers
(ESP) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-4; David Ferrer (ESP) bt Sergiy
Stakhovsky (UKR) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; Jerzy Janowicz
(POL) bt Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4, 1-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-3;
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Go Soeda (JPN) 6-3, 6-2,
7-6 (7/3); Benjamin Becker (GER) bt Lleyton Hewitt
(AUS) 2-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; Milos Raonic (CAN) bt
Donald Young (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE)
6-0, 6-1; Venus Williams (USA) bt Lauren Davis (USA)
6-2, 6-3; Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) bt Anna Tatishvili
(USA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2; Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
bt Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 6-1, 1-6, 6-0; Serena
Williams (USA) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5, 6-0;
Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 6-1, 6-4;
Elina Svitolina (UKR) bt Nicole Gibbs (USA) 7-6 (7/3),
7-6 (8/6); Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) bt Tsvetlana
Pironkova (BUL) 6-2, 6-0; Varvara Lepchenko (USA) bt
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-1, 7-6 (7/1); Madison Keys
(USA) bt Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 2-6, 6-1, 6-1; Alize
Cornet (FRA) bt Denisa Allertova (CZE) 6-4, 6-7 (2/7),
6-2; Madison Brengle (USA) bt Irina Falconi (USA) 6-1,
6-3; Petra Kvitova (CZE) bt Mona Barthel (GER) 6-2,
6-4; Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) bt Chang Kaichen (TPE) 6-1, 7-5; Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Caroline
Wozniacki (DEN) 6-4, 6-2; Coco Vandeweghe (USA) bt
Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-4, 6-4