Daily newspaper

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SPORT | Page 1
FM inaugurates
science campus at
Tohoku University
West Indies
win big to
Latest Figures
There are plans to set up a
specialised centre for skin diseases
at the Rumailah Hospital, which
can treat 1,000 patients daily, in
2016, local Arabic daily Arrayah
has reported. Dr Nouf al-Siddiqi,
specialist in dermatology at
the hospital, told the daily that
the new centre would include
clinics for medication of hair loss,
psoriasis, eczema and venereal
diseases. The centre will also
feature operation rooms for skin
diseases and a section for research
into such disorders. Dr al-Siddiqi
said the existing facility at the
hospital employed more than
20 dermatology specialists and
included a clinic for emergency
cases, according to the report.
Nigeria’s military yesterday claimed
to have recaptured the town of
Baga from Boko Haram, more
than a month after it was overrun
in what is feared to be the worst
massacre of its six-year insurgency.
Defence spokesman Chris
Olukolade claimed that “a large
number of terrorists” drowned
in Lake Chad as they tried to flee
bombardment from air force jets.
Page 14
ASIA | Dispute
China protests
at Modi’s visit
China has lodged an official protest
against Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s visit to a border
region claimed by both countries.
China disputes the entire territory
of the northeast Indian state of
Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south
Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a
key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was
briefly occupied by Chinese forces
during a 1962 war. Page 17
Vol. XXXVI No. 9641
February 22, 2015
Jumada I 3, 1436 AH
www. gulf-times.com 2 Riyals
The inferno gutted the upper part
of the 79-storey Torch tower
AMERICA | Weather
Military beats
back Boko Haram
Rumailah to have new
skin disease centre
NIGERIA | Unrest
QATAR | Health
A fresh band of winter weather
pounded parts of the Tennessee
and Ohio valleys with snow and
rain yesterday as it headed toward
the US East Coast, threatening to
bring more misery to storm-weary
Boston. The system cut a 2,000
mile path from southern Missouri to
Maine, with a winter storm warning
in effect until today for parts of
southern Indiana, Ohio, West
Virginia and Western Pennsylvania,
the National Weather Service said.
Huge blaze rips
through 79-storey
Dubai skyscraper
Winter storm slams
Tennessee and Ohio
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
QATAR | Page 2
Yemeni protesters shouting slogans during a demonstration against the Shia Houthi
movement in Sanaa yesterday.
Hadi challenges
Houthi ‘coup’ after
fleeing Sanaa
emen’s ousted president AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi appeared
to rescind his resignation and
attempt to reclaim his position in a
statement yesterday after escaping
house arrest by the Houthi militia in
the capital Sanaa and fleeing to Aden.
The statement, signed “president
of the republic of Yemen” and read
out on Qatar-based Al Jazeera news
channel, was his first public comment since he resigned last month
when the Houthis overran his private
residence and the presidential palace.
The move throws down the gauntlet to the Shia Houthis who captured
Sanaa on September 21.
Earlier yesterday, Houthi fighters
shot dead a protester and wounded
another in the city of Ibb demonstrating against the group’s takeover,
activists told Reuters.
Describing the Houthi takeover of
Sanaa as a “coup”, Hadi said all moves
made since then, a period in which
the Houthis forced him to accept a
power-sharing agreement and later
dissolved the parliament and set up a
new ruling council, were illegitimate.
A statement made by the Houthis
yesterday accused the ousted president of working for foreign interests
and denied he had been held under
house arrest.
Hadi fled his residence in disguise,
Houthi politburo member Ali al-Qahoum was quoted as saying by the local
news website al-Akhbar. But he added
that it no longer mattered if the former
president remained there or departed.
Hadi’s Sanaa residence was looted
by Houthi militiamen after he left,
witnesses said, but that was denied
by Qahoum.
Hadi’s flight to Aden follows an
agreement between Yemen’s rival
factions on Friday, brokered by the
United Nations, to set up a transitional council that keeps the parliament in place and gives a voice to
some other groups.
The United Nations said reports by
two senior political sources in Sanaa
that it had helped Hadi travel to Aden
were false.
In his statement, Hadi said he remained committed to a 2012 transition plan which aimed at moving to
democracy from the decades-long
rule of former president Ali Abdullah
Saleh, who was pressed to quit following street protests. Page 11
undreds of panicked residents
fled one of the tallest towers in
Dubai yesterday as a huge fire
engulfed the skyscraper, causing extensive damage to its luxury flats.
The inferno gutted the upper part of
the 79-storey Torch tower, triggering
an evacuation of nearby blocks in the
Dubai Marina neighbourhood.
Amateur footage posted online
showed fire engulfing the upper floors
of the tower - home to hundreds of
expatriates - with debris falling onto
the road as strong winds fanned the
Resident Mehdi Ansari told AFP
that the fire alarm sounded at around
2am local time.
“I saw there was fire and pieces of
the building falling down so I immediately took my wife and our baby. We
took some important items and went
down,” he said.
“When we went to the staircase, it
was full of smoke. Later the staircase
got busier and smokier, the lights
went off and some people panicked.”
Civil defence teams cleared the
building, which at 336 metres (1,105
feet) is one of the world’s tallest residential towers.
Dubai police said there were no fatalities but seven people were treated
at the scene for smoke inhalation.
A civil defence department statement said the fire began on the 51st
floor and swept across the tower’s facade affecting 20 storeys.
Major General Rashid Thani alMatroushi, director of Dubai civil
defence, said firefighters were able
to stop the fire spreading to nearby
A fire blazing at the 79-storey Torch
tower in Dubai yesterday.
Emergency teams used “strict protocols to break in quickly and reach
the source of the fire”, he was quoted
as saying by Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National.
Firefighters battled the blaze for
more than two hours, before hundreds
of residents of nearby towers were allowed to return to their apartments.
Ansari, who lives on the tower’s
27th floor, praised the emergency
services for dealing with the blaze.
“It was a big fire and the wind was
making things worse. The fire was
out of control,” said the 30-year-old
sound engineer.
“Some people had to walk down
about 50 floors and weren’t in great
shape,” he added. “The firefighters
were outstanding. They got there very
fast and medics took care of everyone.”
Dubai’s police chief, General
Khamis Mattar, said the fire appeared
to be the result of an accident and did
not suspect it was caused by any deliberate criminal act, in comments
carried by state news agency Wam.
He added that an investigation had
started to determine the cause of the
blaze, Wam reported.
At least a dozen fire trucks extinguished the blaze several hours after
the fire alarm went off around 2am.
Residents of upper floors that were
most affected were told it would be
days before they could return.
Dubai Marina is a popular expat
neighbourhood that has a high concentration of residential towers. It is
also a major tourist attraction.
Dubai, known for its skyline of
hugely varied skyscrapers, has seen
fires at towers in the past.
In 2012, a huge blaze gutted the
34-storey Tamweel Tower in the nearby Jumeirah Lake Towers district. It
was later revealed to have been caused
by a cigarette butt thrown into a bin.
10 foreign workers die in Abu Dhabi fire
Ten foreign workers have died in a
fire that hit a tyre shop in Abu Dhabi,
apparently trapping the labourers in a
warehouse used illegally for accommodation, local media said yesterday. Eight
others were injured in the blaze that
gutted the two-storey building in the
Mussaffah district on Friday, Gulf News
daily reported, saying that the makeshift
hostel above the shop was originally
a storage area. Police said the victims
were of different nationalities and that
the owner of the building was arrested.
An investigation into the cause of the
fire is underway. “The injured were given
first aid by medics and then taken to
hospital while police and firefighters
began the grizzly task of recovering the
10 bodies,” Abu Dhabi-based newspaper
The National reported.
Fire engines near the Torch tower after the fire broke out at the building.
Kerry sees ‘significant gaps’ with Iran on nuclear deal
here are still “significant gaps” in
negotiations over Iran’s nuclear
programme, US Secretary of
State John Kerry said yesterday, warning that President Barack Obama was
not prepared to extend them further.
Kerry’s comments came in a stopover
in London before he heads to Geneva
today for two more days of talks with
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif.
Iran and the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the US
and Germany are trying to strike
a deal that would prevent Tehran
from developing a nuclear bomb in
return for easing economic sanctions.
Iran denies its nuclear programme
has military goals.
Negotiators are working against the
clock ahead of a March 31 deadline for
agreement on the political framework
of a deal.
“There are still significant gaps,
there is still a distance to travel,” Kerry
told a press conference at the US embassy in London.
“President Obama has no inclination
whatsoever to extend these talks beyond the period that has been set out.”
He added that Obama was “fully prepared to stop these talks” if necessary.
US and Iranian negotiators have been
meeting in Geneva since Friday and
senior P5+1 negotiators are also set to
meet in the Swiss city today in a bid to
US Secretary of State John Kerry
speaking during a media briefing at
the US embassy in London yesterday.
drive the talks forward.
Kerry also used his London stop to
stress the international community
was “united” and “in lock step” over
the negotiations.
“There is absolutely no divergence
whatsoever in what we believe is necessary for Iran to prove that its nuclear
programme is going to be peaceful,” he
said earlier in the day.
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
flew in to snow-covered Geneva yesterday to take part in the talks for the first
time, and at Kerry’s request.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the
Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation,
was also taking part in the negotiations.
But Kerry played down any suggestion that this meant the talks were on
the verge of a breakthrough.
“I would not read into it any indication whatsoever,” he said, adding
that Moniz was present because of the
“technical” nature of the talks.
Salehi arrived yesterday morning
with Zarif and Hossein Fereydoun, the
brother and special aid to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to help co-ordinate the talks, Iranian media reported.
While the political aspects of the
deal must be nailed down by the end of
next month, the full agreement must be
signed by June 30 - a cut-off point that
looms all the larger because two previous deadlines have been missed.
Iranian officials have voiced unhappiness with separating the political and
technical aspects of an agreement.
“We won’t have a two-stage deal,”
deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said.
“After a year of negotiations, we
must tackle the details and all the more
so as we want to have both the general
framework and the details in the final
A key stumbling block in any final
deal is thought to be the amount of uranium Iran would be allowed to enrich,
and the number and type of centrifuges
Tehran can retain.
Under an interim deal reached in
November 2013, Iran’s stock of fissile
material has been diluted from 20%
enriched uranium to 5% in exchange for
limited sanctions relief.
Experts say such measures pushed
back the “breakout capacity” to make
an atomic weapon.
Negotiations have been complicated
by hardliners both in Iran and the US, as
well as by Israel lobbying against a deal.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah with the President of Tohoku University Susumu Satomi
and the university’s students after inaugurating the Qatar Science Campus at Engineering Graduate School.
FM opens Qatar Science
Campus at Japan varsity
Sendai, Japan
E the Minister of
Foreign Affairs Dr
Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah has inaugurated the Qatar Science Campus at Engineering Graduate
School at Tohoku University
in Sendai City in Japan.
The Qatar Science Campus is one of the projects
funded by Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF) which was
launched at the initiative of
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani for the
Japanese people. The Fund
aims to support relief efforts
in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit
eastern Japan in March 2011
Dr al-Attiyah presenting a memento to Susumu Satomi.
as well as to strengthen
friendship and co-operation
between the State of Qatar
and Japan and their people
in order to raise the spirit of
hope for the victims and aid
management in a quick and
efficient manner.
Speaking at the inaugura-
tion ceremony, Dr al-Attiyah said that young people
are the window to the future
and the key to progress, as
this is an evidence in Japan
more than anywhere else in
the world.
HE the Minister added:
“Out of Qatar’s belief in
the role of science in the
sustainability of local communities, Qatar Friendship
Fund in collaboration with
Tohoku University launched
the Qatar Science Campus
in order create an advanced
scientific learning environment to serve the local community, and prepare a new
generation of engineers and
researchers that will work to
establish new industries in
the region”.
The President of Tohoku
University Susumu Satomi
praised the effective role
played by the Qatar-Japan
Friendship Fund in the reconstruction of the Tohoku
region, which he said had
earned a positive reputation within the local community.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
NHRC chief meets Omani envoy
Chairman of the National Human
Rights Committee Dr Ali bin Smaikh
al-Marri holding talks with Oman’s
Ambassador to Qatar Mohamed bin
Nasser al-Wahaibi in Doha
yesterday. They discussed ways to
boost co-operation in human rights.
‘Human development key
to eradicating terrorism’
he State of Qatar has
emphasised the need
to address the causes
of extremism, stressing
that human and economic
development is the key to
eradicating terrorism at its
This came in a speech delivered by Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States,
Mohamed Jaham al-Kuwari,
before the three-day Summit on Countering Violent
Extremism, which was inaugurated by President
Barack Obama.
The summit brought together representatives from
more than 60 countries and
was attended, among others, by US Secretary of State
John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and
United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon.
The most prominent
aspects of human development is education and
educated young people are
capable to fight extremist
ideology, al-Kuwari said,
referring to the efforts being exerted by Qatar in
the education sector, especially in terms of building the Education City in
Doha and the initiatives
launched by the Qatar
He also pointed to the role
of Qatar in hosting conferences and discussion forums, in particular the Doha
International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue.
The ambassador highlighted the role of economic
development in warding off
the dangers of extremism
and the importance of providing job opportunities for
He said poverty promotes
terrorism. The inability of
young people to secure a
dignified existence pushes
them to the clutches of extremism, al-Kuwari said.
The success of economic
development efforts needs
good governance, he said,
pointing out that the thriving communities enjoy a
civil society and is able to
hold the government accountable.
Ambassador al-Kuwari
said that peace requires to
lift the peoples of the region out of injustice and
find a comprehensive and
just solution in the Middle
Ambassador Mohamed Jaham al-Kuwari.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Two jailed for robbery, assault
A Doha Criminal Court has
jailed two GCC citizens
for robbery and owning
an unlicensed firearm,
local Arabic daily Arrayah
reported yesterday. One
of them was sentenced
to three years and the
other to two years, the
paper said. They were
also fined QR3,000 for
assaulting their victim.
The prosecution said one
of the accused called
the victim who was also
his friend and asked
him to come to his help
on Zubara road as his
vehicle’s tyre had burst.
When the victim arrived,
he was surprised to see
another man alongside his
friend who threatened him
with a pistol and grabbed
QR4,500 and two mobile
phones from him. They
also assaulted him. Later
they grabbed his car’s key
and drove away leaving
him in the desert.
Clinical nurse
specialists join
HMC’s cancer
care centre
he Hamad Medical
(HMC) has welcomed the first batch of
locally-trained Clinical
Nurse Specialists (CNS),
who will work alongside multi-disciplinary
cancer teams to provide
individualised care and
dedicated support to
cancer patients at the
National Centre for Cancer Care and Research
The six new nurses
have recently graduated
from a master’s degree
nursing, focused on oncology
nursing. The programme,
which was jointly developed in partnership by
HMC and the University of Calgary in Qatar
(UCQ), aims to equip
nurses with the required
skills to contribute to evidence-based, high quality
cancer care.
The new CNSs will
be supporting patients
gastro-intestinal (GI) or breast cancer and also those with
pain and palliative care
The cancer journey is
complex and often confusing, especially for
newly affected patients.
It involves care interventions from various multisite professionals such as
oncologists, surgeons and
counsellors. However, the
clinical nurses provide
and reinforce relevant
information and appropriate liaison with other
professionals to improve
the cancer care process
for patients.
Prof Alexander Knuth,
medical director NCCCR
said: “The importance of
the role of the CNS was
highlighted in the National Cancer Strategy
along with a recommendation that all patients
with a cancer diagnosis
have access to a clinical
nurse specialist. HMC has
since guided all efforts to
cultivate a team of Qatartrained, highly-specialised clinical nurses who
will use their skills and
expertise in cancer care
to provide technical and
emotional support, coordinate care services and
advise patients on clinical
as well as practical issues
so each of our patients receives the safest, most effective and compassionate care.”
In addition to the eight
CNSs who have been offering specialist care to
cancer patients within
different areas across
HMC, the organisation now has a total of
14 fully-qualified nurse
specialists to cater to
the needs of cancer patients.
two new CNSs are expected to graduate by
mid of this year, and 12
more are currently receiving training at the
The six new locally-trained clinical nurse specialists with senior officials from NCCCR.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
The participants at the Rota’s ToT programme.
Rota completes training
programme for volunteers
he Reach out to Asia (Rota), a
member of Qatar Foundation for
Education, Science and Community Development (QF), has completed its second Training of Trainers
programme (ToT) for more than 120
Under the initiative 250 low-income
workers were given classes as part of
Rota’s Adult English Literacy Programme (RAEL) on January 30 and 31.
Sponsored by the Qatar Petroleum
(QP), the RAEL programme provides
both an educational opportunity for
workers who may have had limited
schooling in their own countries, and
a valuable learning opportunity for the
students and volunteers who gain new
teaching skills, along with an understanding of different communities and
their needs.
The training course covered a variety of topics supporting the student
volunteers in becoming full-fledged
literacy trainers. The topics covered
in the training included teaching and
learning, communication and understanding the overall context of global
The RAEL started last year over a
16-week period, split into two terms:
the first in September and the second
in February 2015. In the first term, 120
volunteers from the Qatar Foundation’s
branch campus universities, Ashghal
and Rota were entrusted with the task
of helping low-income workers improve their English language skills.
By teaching workers within their
own organisations, the student volunteer tutors helped improve productivity
as well as demonstrate a commitment
to social responsibility and life-long
learning. The Rota held the second ToT
for the volunteers to continue the success achieved in the first term.
Rota’s Executive Director Essa alMannai, said: “Rota’s Adult English
Literacy Programme has proved to be
a very effective way of supporting local
low-income workers and empowering
them to achieve their aspirations and
goals at work. We are pleased to resume
the initiative and to build the capacities
of such a big number of volunteers who
dedicated their time and effort to this
humanitarian initiative. It does make
us proud to know we have so many
people dedicated to improving and
empowering the well-being of others.
We are thankful to our sponsor, Qatar
Petroleum, who also shares our belief
of supporting workers through RAEL.”
Alongside the QF, the Rota works towards building stronger communities
through initiatives that significantly
impact youth and people in need. First
introduced in 2009, the RAEL programme was created primarily to develop the English literacy and language
abilities of the country’s low-income
workers in Qatar.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
US envoy tours Msheireb project
Dana Shell Smith
has visited both
the Msheireb Downtown
Doha Project and Msheireb Enrichment Centre
(MEC) where she was
welcomed by Msheireb
Properties CEO Abdulla
Hassan al-Mehshadi and
senior management officials.
Smith viewed a detailed
model of Msheireb Downtown Doha Project and was
given a guided tour of the
MEC, which documents
the history of Doha and
showcases future developments.
During her tour of the
Doha Project, al-Mehshadi updated the ambassador on the construction
progress of the QR20bn
Qatar govt allots
land for Lankan
community school
By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter
US Ambassador Dana Shell Smith with Msheireb Group officials.
u r b a n - re ge n e ra t i o n
Smith also expressed her
gratitude to al-Mehshadi
and the management of
Msheireb Properties for
their hospitality and complimented them on their
continued success.
tafford Sri Lankan
School Doha, that
mostly caters to the
Sri Lankan community in
Qatar, has received a piece
of land from the government
to build its own permanent
school building, the chairman of the school has said.
The construction plans
for the building are already
under way, it is learnt.
Speaking to Gulf Times,
Kumudu Fonseka, chairman
of the school and a longtime
resident of Qatar said that
the plot for the school was
allotted in the Al Thumama
area of Doha.
At present, The Stafford
Sri Lankan School is operating from a rented building off Salwa Road near the
Midmac flyover. The school
is catering to more than
900 students and employs
about 60 teachers.
The school is affiliated
to the Sri Lankan embassy
in Qatar and runs as a nonprofit organisation. The patron of the school is the ambassador of Sri Lanka and
HMC Paediatric
Centre at Al Sadd
to be expanded
amad Medical Corporation (HMC) is
expanding the Al
Sadd Paediatric Emergency
Centre to meet the growing
demand of the residents, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported yesterday.
A new building will be
added to the current building, which will house five
new clinics, five rooms for the
classification of patients and
biometrics, besides 13 beds
for in-patients.
Dr Hani Khalafala, consultant paediatrician, told
the daily that such expansions were part of the HMC
plan to accommodate the increasing number of patients.
“Al Sadd Centre has now 45
beds and the number of beds
will be increased to 58 with
the opening of the new building, making it sufficient by
world standards for such an
emergency department.”
He also added that the
number of medical staff has
been increased considerably throughout all paediatric emergency centers in the
The paediatric emergency centres receive around
2,500-3,000 patients a day.
Last year, such centres received 557,591 cases , out of
which 21,922 were referred
to observation rooms for further treatment.
Fonseka thanked Qatar for allotting the land for the school
the institution is governed
by a board of trustees.
Fonseka said: “We are
thankful to the government
of Qatar that one of our
long-standing requests has
been approved. We have received 10,000 sqm of land
in Thumama area. We are
drawing up the plans to construct the school building.”
According to him, the
whole project will cost about
QR40mn. “We expect to
have all the facilities for our
school which include more
than 60 classrooms, a swimming pool, gymnasium, playground and an auditorium
among others. Our plan is to
make facilities for educating
around 2,000 students.”
The official also said that
raising the funds for the
new project was a big challenge. “We expect that the
governments of Sri Lanka
and Qatar will support us in
this venture. We have some
savings from our school about QR4mn. We have to
look for other means to find
the money for the construction. We also expect that
more Sri Lankan community
members will come out and
join the efforts in raising the
money for the project.”
The school’s chairman
noted that there was a possibility that the present
school will be retained at
the current location and the
new school will be an addition or a branch campus of
the school.
He explained: “We have
not yet worked out the
probabilities. We may retain
the present school and continue to run it from there.
We might also think of having only one campus. It all
depends on the availability
of the funds as well as the
number of people who will
be joining the initiative and
contributing to the project.”
The Sri Lankan community is the latest to get a piece
of land from the government
of Qatar to operate a community school in the country.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
400 register for Halal Qatar
ore than 400 participants
registered for the
fourth edition of livestock
festival, Halal Qatar, stated
to begin on February 28.
The festival, organised
by Katara - the Cultural
Village, will have 90 participants in barn activities,
50 for auction, 70 in
the livestock breeders segment and more
than 200 for the ‘most
There has been a
considerable turnout
of GCC participants,
especially from Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait.
The four main activities of the festival
- barns, breeders’ forum, auction and the
‘most beautiful animal’ competition - are
expected to attract a
large number of visitors.
The festival will also
feature a traditional
heritage market with
a special place for folk
and manual crafts, a
corner for traditional
Qatari cuisine where
visitors can enjoy a
taste of fresh, popular dishes, and several
other family-oriented
participation in the
festival concluded on
Thursday. The festival
will end on March 9.
WCMC-Q team
publishes study on
health websites
esearchers at Weill
Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have published a
comprehensive analysis of
Internet health information
in the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) region.
The study, entitled “Typology and Credibility of
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Internet Health
Websites”, appeared in the
World Health Organisation
(WHO) publication Eastern Mediterranean Health
Journal. This research won
the national award for the
top student research grant
by Qatar National Research
The research, carried
out through 2012-2014,
retrieved all of the 925
functional health websites
in the GCC region and categorised the information
found on them.
Dr Alan S Weber, associate professor of English in
the pre-medical department, and Dr Mohamud A
Verjee, associate professor
of family medicine, jointly
led the faculty research.
The student research team
consisted of Zahra Rahman, Fathima Ameerudeen and Nadeen al-Baz,
all third-year medical
students at WCMC-Q.
The authors developed
a novel checklist based on
website quality criteria
from international organisations such as the Health
on the Net Foundation.
The checklist determined
if the sites contained such
key information as pri-
Thamer Mubarak al-Dossari
QU student
makes artwork
for Qatar Total
Open 2015
Total has partnered with
Thamer Mubarak alDossari, a Qatar University
student to create a piece of
art, which has become the
company’s signature for
the Qatar Total Open 2015.
Total and al-Dossari agreed
to incorporate his vision
and talent in an artwork
that will represent Women’s
Tennis, “and will have a
Qatari touch to it.” The
artwork will be featured in
Total’s booth and various
other locations throughout
Qatar Total Open women’s
tournament, which will
take place in Khalifa
International Tennis and
Squash Complex from
February 23 to 28.
Total’s quest to partner
with a Qatari artist for
the sports event was in
line with efforts to reflect
“We wanted to create
a bridge between arts
and sports. This was
an opportunity for
Thamer to realise his full
creative potential, and be
appreciated by the outside
world,” said Guillaume
Chalmin, managing
director of Total E&P Qatar
and Group representative.
Al-Dossari said: “I was eager
to work with Total. As a big
company that knows what
it wants, Total reminded me
a lot of myself.”
“I’m an artist specialising in
female portraits, as well as
a sports enthusiast. Since
this is a women’s tennis
championship, it was an
opportunity to combine all
that I like in one painting.
This painting is very simple
and deep, and very easy to
understand,” he added.
Total said it hopes that the
partnership will support
the Qatar art community
in creating a platform
to embrace artistic
The WCMC-Q research team.
vacy policies, advertising
policies, current date, attribution of information to
qualified medical professionals, and other important information necessary
to help a health consumer
determine the accuracy and
validity of the information
on the site.
Qatar scored highly on
its e-health readiness as
well as site quality. In eight
out of 10 quality categories
measured by the authors,
Qatari websites scored
higher than the GCC
However, Dr Weber and
Dr Verjee pointed out serious deficiencies in health
websites in both Qatar and
the GCC. They suggested
that technical medical
information needs to be
dated, and the authorship
and credentials disclosed.
Websites should be available in languages other
than Arabic and English,
due to the large Asian expatriate populations of the
Gulf. Sponsorships, site
ownerships, and advertising policies should be disclosed clearly and privacy
and security policies need
to be implemented and
The team stressed that
Qatar is now uniquely
placed to take a leading role
in Internet-based health
information in the region.
Factors such as Qatar’s high
Internet connectivity and
penetration rates, planned
broadband infrastructural
upgrades, a positive youth
attitude towards technology, and health sector improvements are all valuable
assets for future development of e-health in Qatar.
The WCMC-Q research
team also wrote and published a set of Arabic and
English public health information brochures to
help Qataris evaluate Internet health information and
use web health resources
safely. The brochures have
been distributed throughout the public health
system in Doha.
Dr al-Sulaiti with the Ethiopian ambassador during a
meeting at Katara.
Katara to host Ethiopia cultural day
Katara - the Cultural Village
will hold an Ethiopian
cultural day on February 27.
The cultural day will feature
shows by Ethiopian National
Theatre at the Opera House
at building 16, in addition
to an Ethiopian national
gallery at building 13. The
event will conclude on
March 5.
Dr Khaled bin Ibrahim
al-Sulaiti, general manager,
Katara, met the Ethiopian
Ambassador to Qatar,
Mesganu Arga Moach, at
Katara, and discussed the
details of the event.
“Ethiopian culture is rich
and ancient and has many
common points with the
Arab and Islamic history.
Katara always introduces
various cultures to its
audiences from around
the world to strengthen
relationships among
various cultures and
peoples, and to act as a
bridge for communication
and co-existence,” said
The Ethiopian ambassador
said that visitors will come
to learn about the culture of
the African country through
cultural, musical, and
dance shows by renowned
The gallery will also feature
paintings of renowned
Ethiopian artists, and
photographs of famous
historical Ethiopian sites
registered as UNESCO
heritage sites. In addition,
the gallery will include old
and valuable manuscripts.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Maserati’s first standalone
showroom inaugurated
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
lfardan Sports Motors has unveiled Maserati’s first standalone showroom in Qatar in a
bid to serve its clients better.
Top officials of Alfardan Group led
by chairman Hussain Alfardan, vicechairman Ali Alfardan, president and
CEO Omar Alfardan, and Maserati Global Overseas Markets managing director Umberto Cini led the inauguration
of the state-of-the-art showroom last
A larger and brand exclusive location at Medina Centrale The Pearl Qatar comes as a response to an increasing
demand for Maserati vehicles in Qatar.
“The new showroom is a testament
of Maserati’s success in Qatar and the
rest of the region,” said Omar Alfardan,
as he expressed confidence that the
initiative will not only complement
the growth of Maserati Qatar but also
reinforce the long-term partnership
between Maserati and Alfardan Sports
Omar Alfardan noted that Maserati’s
key attributes of reliability, luxury and
excellent performance have become the
main driving factors for its popularity
and steady climb towards becoming the
most preferred luxury vehicle for many.
Hussain Alfardan, Ali Alfardan, and Omar Alfardan with Umberto Cini at the inauguration of the new showroom. Right: Models pose with a Maserati at the new showroom.
The Alfardan Group has vowed to
continue providing exceptional and unparalleled services to its valued clients.
“Looking forward, Alfardan Group
will continue to sustain in the industry
by consistently providing exceptional
and unparalleled services to its valued
clients; coinciding with one of the key
pillars which support the Qatar National Vision 2030 issued by HH Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Emir of
the State of Qatar,” said Omar Alfardan.
“This will take the local automotive sector in the country, particularly the luxury segment, to unprecedented heights.”
Cini echoed the statements of Omar
Alfardan saying Maserati’s new home
will allow them to actually grow and
serve customers better “in terms of
customer satisfaction , in terms of customer experience, and of course, ultimately good results for the brand”. He
described Qatar as a fast growing market in the GCC.
The senior official also expects to do
even better this year with a bigger range
of vehicles.
The new showroom houses Maserati’s entire model portfolio including the
Maserati Quattroporte range, Ghibli
range, GranTurismo and GranCabrio
range, and will accommodate more new
Maserati models as they become available in the market .
The facility offers over 1100 square
meters of space on two floors. The first
floor is designed to display up to six
cars simultaneously, in addition to a
reception area, customer lounge and a
lifestyle boutique.
In the dedicated configuration room
future Maserati owners can select each
personalised element for their Maserati
in front of a large screen, including exterior and interior colours and finishes,
wheels, brake calipers and more. The
second floor will display a further six
cars and will provide management offices, meeting rooms and the Maserati
Approved “Pre-Owned” area.
“We are looking forward to opening our doors to the Qatar market. Our
team is ready to offer Maserati lovers
unparalleled service and hands-on attention to detail,” said Alfardan Sports
Motors general manager Charly Dagher.
The exclusive showroom, which was
designed in accordance to global Maserati standards and corporate identity,
and its team of fully trained and com-
Deloitte, Injaz Al-Arab develop social media marketing App
eloitte and Injaz Al-Arab, an NGO
focused on boosting employment
opportunities for Arab youth,
have partnered to develop a unique social
media marketing App to educate students on using marketing across social
media platforms to boost sales and retain
The App has encouraged more than
500 students from five Arab countries
to create 30-second marketing videos to
promote a product or service, which were
then uploaded on Facebook.
A total of 55 videos were submitted by
55 student companies, of which, the top
10 students whose video generated the
most public votes went on to receive further mentorship in the field of social me-
dia marketing by Deloitte volunteers.
Injaz Al-Arab deputy regional director
Akef Aqrabawi said: “The youth today
are extremely tech-savvy and the App
was an excellent method of furthering
their learning experience.”
He added: “Marketing is a specialised
field that requires individuals to be creative, and through this initiative, we were
able to encourage students to think about
the multiple ways of connecting and
engaging consumers in presenting and
selling products. Deloitte has been a fantastic partner and their volunteers really
boosted the learning experience.”
To take students’ marketing knowledge to the next level, Deloitte volunteers
worked with the top 10 nominees to re-
produce their videos to make their campaigns more effective and appealing to
their target audience. “Sequence,” a student company from Injaz Bahrain, won
the “Best Student Video” award.
Also, the students will receive further
mentorship from Deloitte, in addition to
being enrolled on a professional online
course on social media marketing by Udemy.
Injaz student Amine Dahmani said:
“The Deloitte competition was an amazing experience and an incredible opportunity. It helped me and my colleagues
develop our skills in leadership, entrepreneurship and communication.”
Deloitte Middle East talent and communications partner Rana Ghandour
Salhab said: “In order for the youth to
obtain vital work readiness skills, it is
essential for private sector companies
to participate in their development and
She added: “This programme has been
highly-successful and we are thrilled
with the feedback from all participants.
In addition, the videos submitted were
often highly-creative, highlighting the
boundless potential of Arab youth. As
an on-going partner of Injaz Al-Arab,
we look forward to furthering our investment in building the skills of future
young professionals. We are committed to working on social innovation initiatives that make a sustainable impact in
our communities.”
mitted sales consultants, will be available six days per week, apart from Friday, to support prospective clients in
finding their perfect fit.
Maserati is an Italian luxury car
manufacturer which was established in
1914, in Bologna (Italy) by Alfieri Maserati and his brothers.
Its emblem, the trident, was inspired
by the fountain on the Piazza del Nettuno in the centre of Bologna (Italy). It
is a symbol that ties together the brothers, their hometown, and the artistry
and craftsmanship for which Bologna
and Emilia-Romagna are known.
Better public
transport sought
to Barwa Village
By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter
mprovement in road connectivity has prompted retailers in
Barwa Village to seek better public transport services from
different localities, particularly Industrial Area. Speaking
to Gulf Times, representatives of traders who run outlets in
Barwa Village said there was a pressing need to improve public
transport facilities at the earliest.
“For several months now, we have been waiting for not only
an increase in the frequency of buses but also the introduction
of new direct bus services to Barwa Village from different places in and around Doha,” said a businessman whose company
operates an outlet in the township.
Reiterating the need for better public transport services,
a section of traders claimed that some shop owners had been
incurring losses due to “lack of patronage”. They said the introduction of more buses in the afternoon to Barwa Village from
places such as the Industrial Area and Doha would go a long
way in improving their finances.
The traders said now that there is better road connectivity
with the Industrial Area through both the Wakrah-Wukair road
and the stretch of E-Ring Road that is already open, it is high
time buses to Barwa Village are started from the place. “To begin with, frequent services could be introduced on weekends.
If there is an improvement in the patronage, they could be tried
on a regular basis,” said a trader who relocated from Doha to
Barwa Village over a year ago.
On a few occasions traders have arranged transportation to
ferry workers from the Industrial Area to reach the place. Each
of the trips, which were offered for free, evoked good response,
according to some of those associated with the initiative.
Sections of workers in the Industrial Area also feel it would
enhance their mobility if direct buses are introduced to Barwa
Village through either the Wukair route or the Barwa City signal in Mesaimeer and E-Ring Road. As of now, they need to
travel to the Central Bus Station in Doha to catch onward buses
to the Village. The place would be easier to access if direct services are introduced from the Industrial Area, they point out.
Shop owners also highlighted the need to set up a bus station
near Barwa Village.
The Mowasalat authorities, when contacted recently, cited
ongoing road works in different parts of Doha as one of the
main hurdles for introducing more services.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Houthi militia kills protester
opened fire on protesters in the central
Yemeni city of Ibb yesterday, killing one person and
wounding another, activists
The crowd had gathered
in a square after a new power-sharing deal was reached
on Friday to demonstrate
against the Houthis’ role
in overturning the government last month.
Following the shooting,
thousands more people took
to the streets in protest.
Witnesses said the Houthis
were deploying more security forces in response.
former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has es-
Yemeni protesters taking part in rally against the Houthi militia in the city of Ibb, 190kms
southwest of Sanaa, yesterday.
caped his official residence
in Sanaa after weeks of
house arrest by the Houthi
militia and flown to his
home town of Aden, a senior
political sourc said.
Yemen’s feuding political
parties had agreed on Friday to create a transitional
council to help govern the
country and allow a government to continue operating with input from rival
factions after the effective
Houthi takeover.
Western countries are
worried that unrest in
Yemen could create opportunities for Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
to plot more attacks against
international targets.
Late on Friday a drone destroyed a car carrying suspected members of AQAP in
Shawbwa Province, a bastion of the militant group
in the rugged mountains of
southern Yemen, killing at
least three people, residents
The US has acknowledged it carries out drone
strikes against militant targets in Yemen but does not
comment on specific attacks. The strikes, which
have sometimes killed civilians, have angered many
people in the country.
The car was travelling in
the Wadi al-Houta district
of Shabwa, the residents
said. They saw flames surging out of the vehicle and
heard several small explosions coming from it after it
was struck.
UN team probes Mers cases
n international team
of UN human and
animal health experts
has flown to Saudi Arabia to
investigate a recent surge
in cases of a deadly virus
known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or Mers.
Speaking from Riyadh on
Friday, a spokeswoman for
the World Health Organisation-led team said it was
worried by a steep rise in
cases of Mers, which has infected some 50 people in the
kingdom in February alone one of the highest monthly
rates since it first emerged
in humans in 2102.
“We are all very aware of
this surge in cases,” said the
WHO’s Fadela Chaib, one
of an 11-strong Mers expert
team, which ended a threeday mission yesterday.
“Although this is still a
small outbreak compared to
last year, we still need to understand more about what
is happening.”
Mers is a respiratory disease that causes coughing,
fever and breathing problems, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.
Initial scientific studies
have linked it to camels and
it is known to have infected
close to 1,000 people, killing some 360 of them - the
vast majority in Saudi.
The WHO said earlier this
month it was concerned
about Mers and its potential
to spread internationally.
Chaib said the international
team - including experts from
the WHO, the UN Food and
Agriculture Organisation and
the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health
- were talking to scientists
and doctors, going to hospitals
and visiting the government’s
Mers command and control
centre (CCC).
Saudi Arabia has been criticised for moving too slowly
to conduct the types of scientific study needed to pin down
the source of the Mers virus
and to establish how it infects
people and passes from one
person to another.
“They (the Saudi authorities) are making progress,
but there is a lot more work
to do,” Chaib said.
PHCC begins rational use of medicine programme
The Primary Health Care
Corporation (PHCC) has
launched a medicine
rational use programme
to make sure that patients
would only be prescribed
medicines that should meet
their treatment and disease
prevention needs.
It should be administered
through doses that are
appropriate to their
individual needs over a
specific period of time and
with the least possible cost.
The programme includes
an educational programme.
PHCC has started to give the
pharmacists in the health
centres lectures from last
week in this regard. The
lecture includes the concept
of rational use of medicines
and how to implement the
rational use of antibiotics
and medicines for diabetes,
blood pressure and asthma.
There is also an awareness
and educational programme
for the citizens through
bulletins and cards that
explain the concept and
the risks resulting from the
irrational use of medicines.
This is done through
awareness campaigns at
schools, community clubs
and the different means of
mass media but particularly
social media that has good
outreach among various age
The rational use of
medicine is an international
initiative being adopted
by all international health
organisations such as the
WHO. PHCC is endeavouring
to raise awareness about it to
make it one of the practices of
a healthy and prosperous life.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Egypt minister
acquitted of
graft charges
Residents look for survivors amid the rubble of collapsed buildings after what activists said were air strikes by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in
Arbeen, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
Car bomb kills 4 in
Assad hometown
ebels took Syria’s civil war to
the ruling Assad clan’s hometown for the first time yesterday, killing four people in a car bomb
attack on a hospital, state television
and a monitor said.
The attack came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported
that troops had executed 48 people
earlier this week in a northern village,
among them 10 children.
“A terrorist car bomb attack in the
parking of Qardaha hospital killed
four citizens and wounded several
others,” the television said in a news
flash, using the regime term for rebels.
Earlier, the Britain-based Observatory had reported the blast, saying
it was not immediately clear if it had
been caused by a car bomb or by rocket fire.
The blast, the first to hit the heart
of the western town since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, killed
a nurse, a hospital employee and two
soldiers, said Observatory director
Rami Abdel Rahman.
The outskirts of Qardaha have previously come under rocket fire, while
Latakia province - where the town is
located - has seen several rounds of
heavy fighting.
A mausoleum containing the graves
of President Bashar al-Assad’s father
and predecessor, Hafez, and brother
Bassil, is located in Qardaha.
The clan has ruled Syria with an
iron fist for more than 40 years.
Syria’s war began in March 2011 as a
pro-democracy revolt seeking Assad’s
ouster. It morphed into a conflict after
the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on dissent.
Meanwhile, the Observatory said 10
children and 13 rebels were among 48
people executed by government forces
in the northern village of Rityan earlier this week.
The killings took place after troops
entered the town last Tuesday, during an offensive aimed at cutting rebel
supply lines to the Turkish border.
Abdel Rahman said all the dead
were from six families. “There was no
resistance except in one house where a
rebel opened fire at troops before being executed along with his family.”
The brief seizure of Rityan was part
of an abortive army offensive this
week to encircle the rebel-held east of
Aleppo and relieve two besieged Shiite
villages to its north.
By Friday, all but one of the villages
taken by government forces had been
recaptured by the rebels, who include
fighters from Al Qaeda affiliate Al
Nusra Front.
The heavy fighting claimed the lives
of 129 loyalists and 116 rebels, including an Al-Nusra commander, according to an Observatory toll.
While the ground offensive failed,
warplanes kept pounding rebel areas
of Aleppo city and other parts of the
Yesterday, two women and two children were among eight people killed
when a barrel bomb hit a building in
an opposition-held area of Aleppo city,
once Syria’s commercial capital.
Five people were also reported
killed in rebel shelling of regime-held
areas of the city.
The air force also killed at least
seven people in rebel areas east of
Damascus yesterday, the Observatory
According to the group, they were
the latest of more than 7,000 people
killed across Syria since the UN Security Council passed a resolution last
year ordering an end to sieges and indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas.
The Observatory “has documented
the killing of 5,812 civilians, including
1,733 children, 969 women and 3,110
men in barrel bombings and (other) air
raids” over the past year.
Meanwhile, rebel fire on regimeheld areas killed 1,102 people, said the
Observatory, adding that 234 of them
were children.
And 313 people died in areas under
army siege in the past year, as a result
of food and medical shortages, despite
the fact that the resolution also ordered the lifting of sieges.
n Egyptian court has acquitted
former oil minister Sameh Fahmy of charges of selling cheap
gas to Israel and squandering public
funds and threw out his 15-year jail sentence, a judicial source said yesterday.
Fahmy was first arrested and held in
custody in April 2011. Prosecutors said
former president Hosni Mubarak’s government sold gas at preferential rates
to Israel and other countries, costing
Egypt billions of dollars in lost revenue.
The ruling is likely to raise fears
among human rights activists that the
old guard was making a comeback, especially as it came after a court in November dropped charges against Mubarak of conspiring to kill protesters in
the 2011 uprising as well as graft changes related to gas exports to Israel.
Fahmy was sentenced in June 2012
and had successfully appealed his sentence in 2013. The Court of Cassation
ordered a retrial and Fahmy was released shortly after.
The judicial source said the Cairo
Criminal Court found Fahmy and five
others innocent of the charges.
“The verdict is the headline of the
truth. The court heard the witnesses’
statements and had faith that the defendants did not commit any violations
and therefore the court issued the inno-
cence verdict,” Fahmy’s lawyer, Gameel
Saeed, told Reuters.
A security source said Fahmy did not
appear at Saturday’s court session.
Yesterday’s ruling did not apply to
Hussein Salem, a major shareholder in
East Mediterranean Gas, which exported the gas to Israel. Salem was given a
15-year prison sentence in absentia by
the court in June 2012. He had fled to
Spain after the uprising.
Many Egyptians who lived through
Mubarak’s era view it as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism.
His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free
election. But the winner, Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, was ousted last
year by then-army chief Abdel Fattah alSisi after mass protests against his rule.
Sisi, who became president last year,
launched a crackdown on Mursi and
his Muslim Brotherhood. Authorities
have jailed thousands of Brotherhood
supporters and sentenced hundreds to
death in mass trials that have drawn international criticism.
By contrast, Mubarak-era figures
are slowly being cleared of charges
and a series of laws curtailing political
freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old leadership is regaining influence.
The government denies allegations
that freedoms gained after the 2011
uprising are being rescinded and Sisi
has said Egypt faces a tough, prolonged
campaign against militants.
Baghdad’s first female
mayor eyes clean act
woman has been named as mayor of Baghdad for the first time,
a government spokesman said
yesterday, amid widespread corruption
and rampant violence.
Zekra Alwach, a civil engineer and director general of the ministry of higher
education, becomes the first female to
be given such a post in the whole country, where international rights groups
have condemned women’s rights abuses.
As mayor - the most important administrative position in the capital Alwach will deal directly with Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi and holds the
prerogatives of a cabinet minister.
She will begin work today, according
to a municipal source.
“Abadi sacked the (former) mayor
Naim Aboub and named Dr Zekra Alwach to replace him,” government
spokesman Rafed Juburi said.
Aboub’s removal was not designed as
a punishment, although he was regularly accused on social media and by
Baghdad residents as incompetent, the
spokesman added.
He made headlines in March 2014
Garbage is piled on a side of a Baghdad
when he described his city, beset by
brutal sectarian violence and rife with
corruption, as “more beautiful than
New York and Dubai”.
“Aboub is a clown. Abadi should have
sacked him from the start,” said Yasser
Saffar, a Baghdad baker. “All his statements were ridiculous.”
Alwach’s appointment is a breakthrough for gender equality in Iraq,
where rights groups say discrimination
and violence against women is widespread.
According to a UN report last year, at
least a quarter of Iraqi women aged over
12 are illiterate and just 14% enter the
world of work.
Baghdad is currently plagued by car
bombings and sectarian killings, and
militants from the Islamic State group
have seized much of Anbar province to
the west, menacing the capital.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Rockets target
Libya airfield
ockets were fired at an eastern
Libyan airfield used by an antiIslamist general overnight but
fell short, the facility’s manager said
yesterday, adding that there were no
casualties or damage.
Unknown assailants fired four rockets at the international airport just outside Labraq, from which General Khalifa Haftar’s forces launch raids against
Islamist positions in the east.
The airport, which has both civilian
and military terminals, has been targeted repeatedly in recent months.
Labraq is some 65km west of the Islamist stronghold of Derna, which was
hit on Monday by Egyptian and Libyan
warplanes. The raids were in retaliation
for the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by local jihadists affiliated with
the Islamic State group.
The town also lies roughly half that
distance west of Al Qobah, where IS
launched suicide bombings Friday in
response to the Derna attacks, killing
40 people and wounding 41.
Labraq is one of the few airports still
operating in the North African country,
after both the Tripoli and Benghazi facilities were put out of action in clashes.
Libya is awash with weapons and rival militias battling to control its cities
and oil wealth.
It has two rival governments and parliaments, one recognised by the international community and the other with
ties to Islamists.
With the capital in the hands of Islamist militias, the recognised government has taken refuge in Al-Baida, just
a few kilometres west of Labraq.
Troops break IS siege
on Baghdad compound
raqi troops yesterday broke a siege
by Islamic State militants on a
residential compound in western Iraq that had denied hundreds of
families access to food and medical
supplies, officials said.
Government forces, backed by local tribal fighters, broke the siege in
al-Baghdadi, a town not far from a
US airbase in the western province of
Anbar, a security official said.
diers at the base, which came under
artillery and rocket fire by Islamic
State last week.
“Heavy losses have been inflicted
on Daesh in the area,” Karhut told the
Iraqi broadcaster Alsumaria, using an
Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
His claims could not be independently verified.
The Al Qaeda splinter militia controls territory in western and northern Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
Reports say Islamic State has in recent weeks established a foothold in
chaotic Libya in North Africa.
New US defence chief silent
on date of Mosul offensive
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaks to journalists in Madrid yesterday.
Militants in Libya ‘direct threat’ to Europe: Valls
Jihadists in Libya pose a “direct threat”
to Europe, French Prime Minister Manuel
Valls said in Madrid yesterday.
“I would like to cite the question
of Libya and the direct threat to our
security of the creation - under our eyes
and not far from our borders - of a new
haven for the jihadi terrorist,” Valls told a
gathering of social democrats, according
to a transcript of his speech.
Valls’ comments come amid growing
concern that the Islamic State group,
which has already seized swathes of Iraq
and Syria, has also established a foothold
in Libya.
The lawless North African country has
become fertile ground for jihadists following the ouster of dictator Muammar
Gaddafi in 2011.
Analysts have warned that IS is
expected to gain more strength in Libya,
and said the international community
was running out time to combat its
spread there.
“The threat of Islamic State in Libya
is set to increase exponentially,” analyst
Mohamed El-Jareh, from the Atlantic
Council’s Hariri Centre for the Middle
East, said on Friday.
Since Gaddafi was killed, Libya’s beleaguered authorities have been struggling
to rein in powerful armed militias who
are battling for power and the country’s
oil wealth.
Recent attacks in Libya claimed by IS
have boosted concern that some militias
have in fact pledged allegiance to the
Sunni Muslim extremists.
ew US Defence Secretary
Ash Carter said yesterday
he would not telegraph the
precise timing of an upcoming Iraqi
offensive to retake the city of Mosul
from Islamic State militants, after a
US military briefing caused an uproar.
Two influential Republican senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, sent a scathing letter to the
White House on Friday complaining
about a Thursday briefing that predicted a Mosul offensive likely to start
in April or May, involving 20,000 to
25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
“These disclosures not only risk
the success of our mission, but could
also cost the lives of US, Iraqi, and
coalition forces,” McCain and Graham
Israel campaign revels in dirt, avoids real issues
‘The Bibisitter’
“The forces were able to push the
terrorist organization at least 1 kilometre away from the compound,” the
official said on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized
to talk to the media.
The siege had begun last week.
Sabah Karhut, the head of Anbar’s
local council, said Iraqi troops, backed
by US-led coalition warplanes, began
a major offensive Saturday to dislodge
the jihadists from al-Baghdadi, located about 5km from the strategic Ain
al-Asad airbase.
US Marines are training Iraqi sol-
srael goes to the polls next month facing
Middle East turmoil and growing diplomatic isolation, but campaigning has
been dominated by the lifestyle of the prime
minister and his wife.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the
conduct of Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife
Sara is the most important issue facing Israel.
Between comic and sometimes bizarre
videos on social networks, simplistic sloganeering, personal jibes and a total absence of
serious debate, rarely has a campaign sunk so
low, political scientists say.
President Reuven Rivlin agrees. “When
the slogan is the be all and end all, we are left
with a problem,” he said of electioneering for
the March 17 vote. The incoming government will have to
deal with a raft of serious issues.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, international aid agencies
and diplomats are all warning of another outbreak of fighting with Israel unless conditions in the poverty-stricken
territory improve.
While prospects for peace with the Palestinians remote,
in the north the Syria conflict is also exerting new pressures.
With just 8mn citizens, Israel looks on with deep disquiet at the spread of jihadist groups in the region and sees
the influence of arch-foe Iran everywhere.
Domestically, Israel enjoyed enviable economic growth
of more than 7% in the fourth quarter of 2014, despite the
costly July-August Gaza war and unemployment running
at 5.7% in December.
But such numbers also hide a large income divide.
Israeli expatriates in Germany sparked controversy last
autumn when they published on Facebook grocery receipts
showing prices far lower than at Israel’s cheapest discount
chain - and urged compatriots back home to join them in
As campaigning grumbles into its final weeks, voters
have heard more about the Netanyahus’ recycling habits,
dizzying domestic cleaning bills and penchant for pistachio ice cream paid for by the public.
Media reported in January that Sara pocketed at least
$1,000 worth of public cash by collecting the deposits on
empty bottles returned from their official residence.
Her husband denied the allegations.
A report by the government watchdog this week said
Sara Netanyahu had called in an electrician for their private
seaside home in Caesarea every weekend for three months,
including on a public holiday when staff were off and unable to assess whether work was urgently needed.
Despite the possibility of police probing such allegations
they may not harm Netanyahu politically, says Emmanuel
Navon, professor of international relations at Tel Aviv University.
“It will only play in his favour,” he said. “Right wing and
undecided voters perceive this as a vendetta by the left.”
Netanyahu is also having fun with the social networks.
In one video he parodies attacks on him when he is
seen in the middle of a strategic telephone call and an aide
bursts in with news of the latest scandal. “There are snails
in the garden!” he gasps.
Another shows him confronting a crowd of unruly preschool children, one of whom represents political rival Tzipi Livni while the boys bear the names of other challengers.
In another, playing on his nickname Bibi, he is the only
person, in a sketch called “The Bibisitter”, to whom a young
couple is prepared to entrust their children.
Polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party and the opposition
coalition headed by Livni and Labour leader Isaac Hertzog
running about neck-and-neck.
But Israel’s system of proportional representation
means it is not about the single leading party but the one
most able to build a governing coalition.
Hertzog was reportedly also urged to use humour in his
campaign, “but the truth is that the situation in Israel is
not funny,” he has said.
“A third of children living below the poverty line is not
funny. Young couples living with their parents because
they can’t afford to buy an apartment is not funny either.”
Political science professor Denis Charbit, of Israel’s
Open University, says Netanyahu is happy to come out
fighting while others avoid direct conflict for fear of alienating voters.
When he faces off against the White House over the Iran
nuclear issue, for example, “Netanyahu is defining the
daily agenda”.
“Even the report on his lifestyle is a way to avoid the social issues,” Charbit said.
wrote to President Barack Obama.
Carter, in his first briefing with
reporters since being sworn in last
Tuesday, did not address the briefing
by an unnamed Central Command official explicitly, or the letter from McCain and Graham.
But, asked about the Mosul offensive, he made a point about refusing
to offer details. “I think the only thing
I’d like to say about that is that (offensive) is one that will be Iraqi-led and
US-supported. And it’s important
that it be launched at a time when it
can succeed,” Carter told reporters
shortly before landing in Afghanistan.
He added: “Even if I knew exactly
when that was going to be, I wouldn’t
tell you.”
Mosul, which had a population of
more than 1mn people, was captured
by Islamic State fighters in June and is
the largest city in the group’s self-de-
clared caliphate, a stretch of territory
that straddles the border between
northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
It is highly unusual for the US military to openly telegraph the timing of
an upcoming offensive, especially to a
large group of reporters.
McCain and Graham, in their letter to Obama, demanded to know the
identity of the unnamed US official.
They also asked whether the official
had prior approval from the White
A US defence official, speaking on
condition of anonymity, said the White
House had no advance knowledge of
the briefing and did not give any direction about what would be said.
The official also added that Carter
was aware of the letter from McCain
and Graham and was always concerned about safeguarding information about future military operations.
A snow-covered taxi drives past a picture of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah
in Jbaa village, south Lebanon.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Mugabe turns 91, slowly sheds pariah image
imbabwean President Robert Mugabe turned 91 years
old yesterday, showing no
sign of giving up power as the
West slowly eases pressure on a
man who has been an international pariah for the last decade.
Mugabe, one of the Africa’s
most divisive figures, is the only
leader that Zimbabwe has known
since independence from Britain
in 1980.
Leaders from his generation
like South Africa’s Nelson Mandela have died while others like
Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda retired long ago, but Mugabe plans
to run in the 2018 election, his
last under a new constitution,
when he will be 94.
Mugabe ... holding his own
Last December Mugabe fired
his deputy of 10 years, changed
the ruling party constitution to
concentrate more power in his
hands and promoted his wife
Grace into the top rungs of the
ZANU-PF decision-making politburo.
The EU and US imposed travel
and financial sanctions on Mugabe and his acolytes in 2002 accusing the veteran leader of vote
rigging and human rights violations.
Finger-wagging and remonstrating, Mugabe has said the
West is punishing him for seizing
white-owned commercial farms
to resettle blacks and have sponsored his opponents at home.
Newspapers yesterday printed
congratulatory messages from
companies and government departments hailing Mugabe as
“chief of chiefs”, “embodiment
and a template of unparalleled
Pan-Africanism” and “revolutionary and a visionary”.
A senior Mugabe aide said he
was spending the day at home
Boko Haram
attacks island
on Niger side
of Lake Chad
oko Haram militants yesterday
attacked an island on Niger’s
side of Lake Chad but the army
repelled them after heavy fighting,
residents and security sources said.
The Lake Chad area - a vast maze
of tiny islands and swampland sheltering thousands of Nigerian refugees
- is thought to be serving as a hideout
for the Islamist insurgent group.
“There was heavy weapons and
machine gun fire from about 8pm
(on Friday),” said a resident of Niger’s
nearby lakeside town of N’Guigmi,
which Boko Haram attempted to
seize earlier this month. Niger security sources said several Boko Haram
members were killed in the fighting.
It was not immediately clear which
island had been attacked and whether
it was inhabited, but the security
sources and residents said it was in
Niger and within 50km of the borders
with Chad and Nigeria.
Last week, Boko Haram fighters
aboard motorised canoes attacked a
fishing village in Chad, killing at least
five people in the group’s first known
lethal attack on that country.
The Sunni group, which has killed
thousands of people in a six-year insurgency in Nigeria, has been gaining
strength in the past year. It has carved
out a territory the size of Belgium in
the northeast of the country and intensified cross-border raids.
But regional forces from Nigeria,
Chad, Cameroon and Niger have won
battles against the group in recent
weeks as they seek to hem them within their heartland.
Niger, a poor desert nation, is also
seeking to dismantle clandestine
with his family and would hold
huge celebrations in the resort
town of Victoria Falls on February 28.
“Given the rarity of this
achievement, we believe that
this is the best evidence yet that
his leadership is indeed the will
of God,” Simon Khaya Moyo,
ZANU-PF’s spokesman said in a
congratulatory message.
Viewed as an international
pariah only two years ago as
Zimbabwe’s political crisis
topped the agenda at all summits of the regional Southern
African Development Community (SADC), Mugabe’s political fortunes have now changed
for the better.
After a landslide victory in July
2013 elections that has left the
opposition in tatters, Mugabe is
now SADC chairman and was last
month chosen to chair the African Union, positions his ZANUPF says are an endorsement of his
nationalist policies.
The European Union (EU) on
Friday renewed an arms ban on
Zimbabwe as well as travel and
asset freezes on Mugabe and his
wife, although the bloc has gradually eased sanctions to encourage reforms.
The EU this week gave Zimbabwe 234mn euros ($266mn)
in aid, the first time the bloc has
directly given financial aid to the
southern African nation’s government since 2002.
and France have already visited
Zimbabwe this year as Western
countries explore business opportunities in a country that has
pivoted to China for financial assistance in the last decade.
Political analysts say the West
may have realised that ZANU-PF
could be in power for longer and
calculated that, given Mugabe’s
advanced age and rumours of ill
health, he could soon leave the
political scene.
Mugabe frequently travels to
Singapore for medical checks but
insists he is fit.
“It may have dawned on the
West that Zimbabwe is stuck
with ZANU-PF for a long time
to come and that this is time for
rapprochement,” said Eldred
Masunungure, a political science
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
“They are taking a pragmatic approach to say the policy
of the last 10 years has not
really worked because Mugabe
is still president,” Masunungure
Rapid progress
Nigerians displaced return home to ‘ghost town’
Residents of the northeast Nigerian
town of Gamboru returned yesterday
to their homes for the first time since
Chadian forces retook it from Boko
Haram. Scores of people crossed the
300m bridge that forms the border
with Cameroon under military escort
to survey the ravaged town and homes
looted by the militants.
Boko Haram seized Gamboru in
August last year, forcing thousands to
flee across the frontier to the town of
Fotokol, on the other bank of the river
in northern Cameroon.
Chadian forces, who have joined
the regional fight to crush the Islamist
insurgency, retook Gamboru earlier
this month, after intense fighting that
left hundreds of insurgents dead.
“We met a ghost town strewn with
burnt vehicles, destroyed buildings and
emptied homes,” Kachalla Moduye told
AFP by telephone from Fotokol after a
two-hour tour of the town on Friday.
“Many homes were burnt in the
Boko Haram invasion and in the fighting to reclaim it by Chadian soldiers.
Those that were spared were looted
by Boko Haram in the five months they
stayed in the town.”
Gamboru has been repeatedly tar-
Boko Haram networks around its
southern border.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived in Chad yesterday as part
of a 48-hour trip to countries affected
by Boko Haram’s insurgency. He will
travel to Cameroon and Niger next.
“I came here to offer (President
Idriss) Deby France’s support and
solidarity,” he told journalists, adding
that he expected African countries to
lead the fight against Boko Haram.
geted in the increasingly bitter conflict,
which has left more than 13,000 people
dead since 2009 and made more than
1mn homeless.
It was the first town recaptured in
the regional fight-back by troops from
Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon,
which was launched because of dawning fears of Boko Haram’s threat to
regional security.
Gamboru residents who hoped to
salvage personal effects were disappointed as they found their homes
“There was nothing in my house
save the three wooden beds and my
old cushion chairs. Every other item
was stolen,” said Fanna Bukar, a mother
of three. “Even my sewing machine,
which I so much looked forward to
salvaging, was gone.”
But even though their possessions
were gone, locals said the tour was
“Seeing is believing. We are now
convinced our town has been liberated
and we hope to come back and rebuild
our lives once Boko Haram is finally
wiped out,” said Moduye.
“I’m sure we will return soon to start
a new life,” added Bukar.
France, the former colonial master,
has a strong military presence in the region and provides intelligence and logistical aid. The US is deepening its commitment to countering the group and
will share communications equipment
and intelligence with African allies.
Military chiefs meet in N’Djamena
next week to finalise plans for a
8,700-strong task-force of troops
from Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin
and Niger to fight the militant group.
A canoeist negotiates the Tops Needle rapid during the Dusi Canoe Marathon in Inanda, South Africa. The 120km event
takes place between Pietermaritzburg and Durban over three days.
89 school children taken
by South Sudan militia
n unidentified South Sudan
armed group has abducted at
least 89 boys, some as young as
13, from their homes in the north of the
country, Unicef said yesterday.
“Eighty-nine children were abducted
...,” a statement said, adding that “the
actual number could be much higher.”
The UN children’s agency said the
mass abduction happened at the start
of the week in the town of Wau Shilluk.
Witnesses said that unidentified
armed soldiers surrounded the community and went house-to-house taking away by force any boys thought to
be over 12 years old.
“The recruitment and use of children
by armed forces destroys families and
communities,” said Jonathan Veitch,
the head of Unicef in South Sudan.
“Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose
their families and their chance to go to
Unicef estimates there are at least
12,000 children used by both sides in
South Sudan’s ongoing civil war.
Recruitment of children has increased since fighting began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar,
of planning a coup.
War continues despite numerous
ceasefire deals and with peace talks underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis
Earlier this month advocacy group
Human Rights Watch accused both
rebel and government forces of “actively recruiting” child soldiers despite na-
tional laws prohibiting it and repeated
promises to stop the practice.
Makuei dismissed the report, saying
the government did not use children in
combat as there were plenty of men able
to fight.
It was not clear which armed group
was responsible for this week’s mass
abduction in Wau Shilluk, a riverside
town in government-held territory
within Upper Nile state.
It has grown dramatically with the
arrival of tens of thousands of people forced from their homes during
14-months of war, many fleeing from
the nearby city of Malakal, where fighting has been particularly fierce.
The area is under the control of
government-aligned warlord Johnson
Olony, who HRW accused of recruiting
children in its February report.
Liberia lifts Ebola curfew
iberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
has ordered the lifting of the overnight
curfew imposed nationwide at the
height of the Ebola outbreak, beginning today.
According to a presidential press statement,
the Liberian leader has also ordered the reopening of all the country’s main borders that
had been closed because of Ebola fears.
The nationwide curfew was first imposed
in August, as part of measures meant to
contain the further spread of Ebola.
On Friday, the World Health Organization
called for continued support for the fight
against Ebola in West Africa, saying that
after a rapid reduction, case numbers had
remained stagnant for weeks.
Bruce Aylward, WHO special representative on Ebola, said that the curve representing the weekly number of new cases has
“flattened out” for the last four weeks, stagnating between 120 and 150 new cases each
week. “This is not what you want to see with
Ebola,” Aylward said.
According to WHO, 23,253 people have
contracted the disease, which has ravaged
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since
March 2014, resulting in 9,380 deaths.
Mogadishu hotel suicide bombers were Dutch: Somali intelligence
Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh (centre) and Somalia’s President
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (left) meets members of the African Union
Mission in Somalia the Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu.
win suicide bombings at a
Mogadishu hotel popular with
ministers and officials were carried out by Dutch nationals, Somali
intelligence sources said yesterday, the
day after 25 people were killed.
Somali intelligence believe both
suicide bombers - a man and a woman
- were Dutch-Somali citizens who infiltrated the Central Hotel close to the
presidential palace ahead of the attack.
Sources within the Somali National
Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA)
said the man, identified as Ismail Muse,
exploded a bomb in a car parked at the
hotel while the woman, Lula Ahmed Dahir, detonated her explosive vest inside
the hotel’s prayer room.
The woman “worked part time in
the hotel for up to four months,” according to an intelligence report seen
by AFP.
“Her relationship to the male attacker... is not yet known but thought
to be very close, if not husband,” said
the report.
The attack left 25 people dead including two MPs, the deputy mayor
of Mogadishu, the Prime Minister’s
private secretary and the deputy PM’s
chief of staff.
Deputy PM Mohamed Arte, the
minister of transport and minister of
port and marine resources were among
dozens of injured.
Heavy gunfire followed the two explosions as nervous security forces
searched the hotel compound.
“The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big,” said police officer Abulrahman Ali.
Thick clouds of black smoke were
seen pouring from the hotel as the injured were rushed to hospital.
Shebaab militants quickly claimed
responsibility for the attack.
“Our fighters attacked the Central
Hotel,” Shebaab spokesman Abdulaziz
Abu Musab told AFP, saying that the
aim had been “to kill the apostate officials.”
Shebaab rebels have staged a string
of assaults in their fight to overthrow
the country’s internationally-backed
government. They have targeted hotels, the international airport, the
presidential palace known as Villa
Somalia, a UN compound and restaurants.
The last most deadly attack targeting government was in December
2009 when Shebaab gunmen went
room-to-room in the Shamo Hotel
killing 25 people, including three ministers.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
oil trains
carry more
Tentative deal reached
for US West Coast ports
Los Angeles
group of shipping companies and a powerful dockworkers union
reached a tentative labour deal
late on Friday after nine months
of negotiations, settling a dispute that disrupted the flow of
cargo through 29 US West Coast
ports and snarled trans-Pacific
maritime trade with Asia.
The agreement, confirmed
in a joint statement by the two
sides, was reached three days after US Labor Secretary Thomas
Perez arrived in San Francisco to
broker a deal with the help of a
federal mediator who had joined
the talks six weeks earlier.
The White House called the
deal “a huge relief” for the economy, businesses and workers.
President Barack Obama
urged “the parties to work together to clear out the backlogs and congestion in the West
Coast ports as they finalise their
agreement”, the White House
said in a statement.
The 20,000 dockworkers covered by the tentative five-year
labour accord have been without
a contract since July.
The dispute had reverberated
throughout the US economy,
extending to agriculture, manufacturing, retail and transportation.
anada will increase the
insurance railways must
carry when they haul
crude oil and impose a levy on
shippers to help cover the cost of
major accidents in the burgeoning oil-by-rail industry, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said on
Raitt unveiled the measures in
a bill which responds largely to
the 2013 explosion of a runaway
train that levelled the heart of
the Quebec village of Lac-Megantic and killed 47 people.
The legislation also gives her
department more power to step
in if it feels a railway is not being
run safely.
The costs of the cleanup and
reconstruction for Lac-Megantic far exceeded the C$25mn
($20mn) insurance carried by
the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic
Railway, driving the railroad into
bankruptcy and leaving Canadian federal and provincial governments to pick up the tab.
Within two years federally
regulated railways carrying any
crude oil will now have to have
insurance of at least C$100mn,
ranging up to C$1bn per incident
for annual shipments exceeding
1.5mn tonnes.
The rules cover the Canadian
operations of US firms such as
BNSF Railroad, which is owned
by Berkshire Hathaway Incorporation, CSX Corporation and
Union Pacific Corporation.
Canada will also charge crude
oil shippers C$1.65 a tonne –
roughly 25¢ a barrel – which will
go into a supplementary fund
to pay for damages exceeding a
railway’s minimum insurance
Supply chain disruptions have
hit from automakers to consumers of french-fried potatoes at
McDonald’s Corporation restaurants in Japan.
Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated, the world’s largest retailer, said on Thursday that the
dispute had caused delays of
“pockets of merchandise” and
that the potential cost had been
included in the company’s earnings forecasts this week.
The deal was welcomed by organisations such as the National
Association of Manufacturers
and the US Meat Export Federation.
US meat exporters have had
to put millions of pounds of beef
and pork into cold storage, ship
by air or use Canadian or Mexican ports, rather than send it out
through West Coast ports.
Tyson Foods Incorporated and
Cargill Incorporated are among
the leading US pork and beef
Tensions arising from the
talks have played out since last
fall in chronic cargo backups that
have increasingly slowed freight
traffic at the ports.
According to the American
Association of Port Authorities, some $3.8bn worth of goods
move in and out of US seaports
each day.
The West Coast ports handle
nearly half of all US maritime
trade and more than 70% of the
This December 4, 2012 file photo shows a ship with containers
aboard moored under cranes at the Port of Los Angeles in southern
California. US West Coast dockworkers and port operators have
reached a tentative deal on a new labour contract, averting a
shutdown that would have hit about half the country’s trade.
country’s Asian imports.
Shipping companies have
sharply curtailed operations at
the marine terminals, suspending loading and unloading of
cargo vessels for night shifts,
holidays and weekends at the
five busiest ports.
Perez said that as part of Friday’s accord, the International
Longshore and Warehouse Union and the shippers’ bargaining
agent, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), agreed to fully
restore all port operations from
yesterday evening.
The deal is subject to ratifi-
would slow production at some
of its North American plants
due to delays in parts shipments
from Asia while Toyota Motor
Corporation said it had reduced
overtime at some factories.
Nissan Motor Company Ltd
said it had been somewhat affected.
Honda and other car manufacturers said they were switching to higher-cost air freight to
minimise delivery slowdowns.
Orient Lines’ container shipping unit partly blamed the congestion for an 8% decline in its
fourth quarter.
Port officials have said it
would take six to eight weeks
to clear the immediate backlog
of cargo containers piled up on
the docks and several months
for freight traffic to return to a
normal rhythm once the dispute
was settled.
Besides work slowdowns the
companies accused the union of
staging to gain bargaining leverage and the curtailed operations
the union said were designed to
squeeze its members, the West
Coast waterfront still faces a
range of systemic problems cited
by port authorities as factors in
the backups.
Still, the settlement averted
a worst-case scenario of the labour dispute devolving into a
full-scale, extended shutdown
of the ports.
Astronauts rigging station
for new US space taxis
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Deadly ‘Bourbon’
virus discovered
US health authorities on Friday
announced the discovery of
a new virus believed to be
responsible for the death of a
previously healthy man in Kansas
last year.
The virus – named “Bourbon”
after the county where the
victim lived – is part of a group of
viruses known as thogotovirus,
the Centres for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) said in a
Thogotoviruses have been linked
to ticks or mosquitoes in Europe,
Asia and Africa and officials said
the Bourbon virus may also have
been spread the same way.
The victim in Kansas, described
as a man in his 50s, had been
bitten by ticks multiple times in
the days before falling ill, the CDC
cation by the union rank-andfile and the individual shipping
lines and terminal operators that
make up the PMA.
No details of the terms were
immediately revealed.
Perez was sent to California
on Tuesday as an emissary for
Obama, who had come under
mounting political pressure to
intervene in a labour conflict
that by some estimates could
have ended up costing the US
economy billions of dollars.
Perez said he told the union
and management negotiators:
“You have an obligation to re-
solve this matter quickly because too many people and businesses are suffering.”
The principal sticking point
when he first joined the talks,
Perez told reporters after the
agreement, was the arbitration
system for resolving workplace
disputes under the contract.
He did not disclose how that
impasse was overcome but said
the parties agreed to changes
that would improve the system
while “ensuring fairness to both
Perez, who had been joined
at times during the week by US
Commerce Secretary Penny
Pritzker and Los Angeles Mayor
Eric Garcetti, exited the talks on
Friday morning after one last
meeting with both sides.
Announcement of an agreement came hours later.
Disruptions at the ports have
been blamed by each side on the
other as pressure tactics.
Cargo loads have faced lag
times of two weeks or more as
dozens of inbound freighters
stacked up at anchor along the
coast, waiting for berths to open.
California farmers were especially hard hit, with port disruptions threatening perishable
goods headed to overseas markets and export losses estimated
to be running at hundreds of
millions of dollars a week.
Japan’s Honda Motor Company said earlier this week that it
This Nasa TV image shows astronauts Barry Wilmore (left) and Terry Virts during a spacewalk to lay cable
on the International Space Station.
pair of US astronauts
floated outside the International Space Station
(ISS) yesterday to begin rigging
parking spots for two commercial space taxis.
Station commander Barry
“Butch” Wilmore, 52, and flight
engineer Terry Virts, 47, left the
space station’s Quest airlock
shortly before 8am EST/1300
GMT to begin a planned 6-1/2hour spacewalk, the first of
three outings over the next eight
The work will prepare docking ports for upcoming flights
by Boeing Company and privately owned Space Exploration
Technologies, or SpaceX, which
are developing capsules to ferry
crew to and from the station,
which flies about 260 miles
(418km) above the Earth.
The United States has been
dependent on Russia for station crew transportation since
the space shuttle was retired in
The first test flight of a new
US crew craft isn’t expected
until late 2016, but the station,
a $100bn laboratory owned by
15 nations, needs to undergo a
significant transformation to
prepare for the new vehicles,
Nasa said.
That work began yesterday
with Wilmore and Virts expected to install six cables to a
docking port on the station’s
Harmony module, the same site
where space shuttles used to
“This will be the most complicated cable-routing task that
we have performed (by spacewalkers) to date,” Karina Eversly, lead spacewalk official, told
reporters at a news conference
on Wednesday.
After two more spacewalks
scheduled for tomorrow, February 23 and Sunday, March 1, the
station will be outfitted with a
total of 764 feet (233m) of new
cabling, as well as a communications system to support Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s
upgraded Dragon capsules.
The work sets the stage for
the launch and installation
of two international docking
systems, built by Boeing and
scheduled for launch aboard
SpaceX Dragon cargo ships later
this year.
To make room for a second
berthing port on Harmony and
two docking slips for cargo
ships, Nasa also plans to relocate another module using the
station’s robot arm.
“We’re doing a lot of reconfiguration this year,” Kenneth
Todd, station operations manager, said at the news conference. “We are really trying to
take the station into this next
Kristen Stewart makes history
Oscar protest planned over lack of diversity
rights groups plan to
protest outside today’s
Oscars show, where every single one of this year’s 20 acting
nominees is white.
However small, the demonstration will revive debate about
diversity at the Oscars-awarding Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, whose voting
members are overwhelmingly
white and with an average age in
their 60s.
“The goal of the protest is to
send a message to the Academy,
send a message to Hollywood,
send a message to the film industry,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, head of the LA Urban Policy
Roundtable group.
“And the message is very simple: you don’t reflect America,
your industry doesn’t reflect
America. Women, Hispanics,
African-Americans, people of
colour (are) invisible in Hollywood.”
Halle Berry and Denzel Washington were famously lauded as
having made a breakthrough for
winning best actress and actor
Oscars in 2002, but while there
has been some progress in the
wilight megastar Kristen
Stewart won best supporting actress for her
role in Clouds of Sils Maria at the
Cesar awards on Friday, the first
American actress to ever take
home one of the so-called French
Best known for playing Bella
in the blockbuster vampire romance-thriller trilogy, Stewart’s role in Clouds of Sils Maria
alongside Juliette Binoche is a
return to the indie films that
marked her early career.
Directed by France’s Olivier Assayas, the movie stars
the 24-year-old Stewart as the
personal assistant to a famous
actress played by Binoche and
follows their complex, sexuallycharged relationship.
Clouds of Sils Maria premiered
at Cannes last May.
Stewart said that she was honoured to work with the Oscarwinning Binoche – she shouted out “I love you Juliette” in
French, as she collected her Cesar in Paris – and described the
film as complex and something
of a hard sell.
“It’s not marketable, it’s not
easy to sum up. Its ideas are not
Stewart with her trophy after winning Best Supporting Actress Award
for her role in the film Sils Maria (Clouds of Sils Maria) during the 40th
Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris on Friday night.
packaged and delivered in the
way that American films do.
It doesn’t think for you, it lets
you think,” she said during the
Cannes festival. “It’s a rare opportunity for a young actress, an
American actress, to be in a movie like that and I jumped at it.”
Clouds of Sils Maria is the latest in a series of films featuring
the California-born Stewart to
earn critical acclaim.
In Still Alice, she plays the
daughter of Oscar-nominated
Julianne Moore, who portrays
a linguistics professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s
Stewart’s role as an aimless
young woman in the 2010 Welcome to the Rileys nabbed her
a BAFTA Rising Star Award and
also a best actress win at the Milan International Film Festival.
decade since, it remains too little.
Critics rounded on the Academy as soon as the nominations
were announced last month,
with all-white acting categories
for the first time in nearly two
decades: the last time was in
2011, and before that, 1998.
Notable snubs included Britain’s David Oyelowo, widely
tipped for playing Martin
Luther King Jr in Selma.
The film’s director Ava DuVernay, was also left out, although the movie is among
eight picture nominees.
The Academy has defended
itself. Its first African American
president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs,
said shortly after nominations
were unveiled that they spurred
her to accelerate reforms to
make the Academy more inclusive.
“Personally, I would love to
see and look forward to (seeing) a greater cultural diversity
among all our nominees in all of
our categories,” she said at the
But Darnell Hunt, head of the
UCLA centre for African American studies, and author of The
Hollywood Diversity Report, said
the Academy is heading in the
wrong direction.
Hunt, who plans to release an
A staffer wipes a large Oscar statue during preparation for the 87th
Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, California.
update on his diversity report in
a couple of weeks, said that 93%
of the Academy’s members are
white, about 70% male, while
the average age is 63.
“In many ways the Academy
is falling further and further behind because America is more
diverse,” Hunt said. “In about
two or three decades, we are going to be majority minority (with
minorities making up most of
US population) and you are going to have an Academy with 90
something per cent white?
“That makes no sense.”
Peter Saphier, a member of
the Academy since 1978 and
former Universal executive who
produced Scarface (1983), acknowledged that the body has
some work to do.
“There should be more diversity within the Academy itself,”
he told AFP. “They are trying to
do something about it. We have
an African American president.
She is doing all she can to increase the membership diversity.” Page 28
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Indonesia recalls envoy to
Brazil amid execution row
Brazil and the Netherlands
earlier withdrew their
ambassadors from Indonesia,
which has some of the
strictest drug trafficking
laws in the world, after two
of their citizens were among
six people executed for drugs
offences last month
Phnom Penh
ndonesia has recalled its
new ambassador to Brazil
after the South American
country stopped him taking
part in a credentials ceremony
following the execution of a
Brazilian national for drugs
Brazil and the Netherlands
earlier withdrew their ambassadors from Indonesia, which
has some of the strictest drug
trafficking laws in the world,
after two of their citizens were
among six people executed for
drugs offences last month.
Indonesia is also involved in
a diplomatic dispute with Australia over the fate of two Australian members of the “Bali
Nine” drug trafficking ring
who are due to be executed this
Toto Riyanto, who was chosen as Indonesia’s new ambassador to Brazil in October, had
been invited to present his credentials at a ceremony at the
presidential palace in Brasilia
on Friday along with several
other new ambassadors, but his
participation was postponed
at short notice. The ceremony
went on without him.
When asked why, Brazilian
President Dilma Rousseff said:
“We think it’s important there
is an evolution in the situation
so that we can have clarity over
the state of relations between
Indonesia and Brazil”.
Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry
responded angrily yesterday.
“The manner in which the
foreign minister of Brazil sud-
over alleged
Indonesian police stand guard in front of Kerobokan prison in Denpasar on Bali island.
denly informed (us of) the postponement...when the ambassador designate was already at
the palace, is unacceptable to
Indonesia,” the ministry said in
a statement.
No foreign country could interfere with Indonesia’s laws,
including those combatting
drug trafficking, it said.
The ministry also summoned
Brazil’s ambassador late on Fri-
day before recalling Riyanto.
Brazil’s embassy in Jakarta
could not be reached for comment yesterday. A spokesperson for Brazil’s foreign ministry,
Itamaraty, in Brasilia declined
to comment. Indonesia is also
involved in a diplomatic dispute with Australia over the fate
of two Australian members of
the “Bali Nine” drug trafficking
ring who are due to be executed
this month. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pledged
no clemency for drug offenders,
despite pleas from the European
Union, Brazil, Australia and Amnesty International.
Cambodian general was
arrested amid allegations
of involvement in a highprofile court corruption case,
news reports said yesterday.
Brigadier General Pech Prum
Mony, a deputy chief of staff,
was arrested late Thursday, a
spokesman for the military police was quoted as saying by the
Cambodia Daily.
Formally he was “accused of
obstructing the work of public
officials,” Brigadier Kheng Tito
He was also said to be the facilitator and right-hand man
of the former president of the
Phnom Penh Municipal Court
director Ang Mealaktei, dismissed amid allegations of corruption this week, the Phnom
Peng Post reported, citing court
officials celebrating his departure Wednesday.
Mealaktei was reportedly involved in a range of graft cases,
the Post report said.
The current scandal centres
around the murder case against
Thong Sarath, a major general in
the army and wealthy property
developer, wanted for gunning
down a business rival in November.
Sarath is on the run, but authorities detained his parents in
December on charges of illegal
possession of weapons.
They were released on bail
that month, and later caught
trying to flee to Vietnam and rearrested.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said
Tuesday that the decision to
grant them bail may have been
influenced by a $5mn bribe.
Tito confirmed that Mony’s
arrest was linked to the handling
of Sarath’s parents’ case, the
Cambodia Daily reported.
Malaktei was moved to a post
in the Ministry of Justice.
Myanmar says more than 130 dead
in fighting near Chinese border
Migrant workers who fled from Karmine wave as they ride a vehicle to return home, after staying at a
temporary refugee camp in Lashio yesterday.
yanmar’s army yesterday said more than 130
people had died in a
deepening battle with rebels in
the northeast, declaring it would
not rest until stability was restored to the border area which
tens of thousands have fled.
Fighting raged in the remote
Kokang region of Shan state
where conflict erupted on February 9 when insurgent attacks
on soldiers triggered a military
onslaught, prompting at least
30,000 civilians to escape into
bordering China.
In the first press conference
since clashes began, defence
ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Mya Htun Oo said
the conflict had killed 61 military and police officers and
around 72 insurgents.
“The fighting is strong...
Because of serious fighting,
our helicopters are helping,”
he told reporters in the capital
“We will not retreat until
we get stability.”
He did not provide figures on civilian deaths in and
around Laukkai town, where
the conflict has centred, as
efforts to evacuate communities remain hampered by an
attack Tuesday on a local Red
Cross convoy which wounded
two aid workers.
The spokesman blamed the
attack on the rebels: “Our
military only provides protection to civilian convoys...
We are going to take action
against Kokang rebels’ offence.”
The ethnic Chinese Kokang
rebels or National Democratic
Alliance Army (MNDAA), who
are fighting for regional au-
Phnom Penh’s imperilled architectural heritage
Phnom Penh
he former Police Commissariat in Phnom Penh,
a proud colonial structure when first built in 1927-31,
has seen better days.
Its distinctive yellow plasterwork is pockmarked, filthy and
peeling. Trees and shrubs grow
unchecked across the grounds,
poking through windows, even
sprouting from the four-storey roof. Just across the street
stands the imposing, butterygold post office, built in 1895
but now restored, in daily use,
and commanding the centre of
the old French quarter.
The two buildings show the
contrasting fates that can await
the colonial heritage buildings
of Cambodia’s capital, built
during the heyday of the French
protectorate, but now often
derelict and coming under economic pressure for the prime
real estate they occupy.
Some can be restored to profitability as high-end venues,
said Philippe Delanghe, a culture specialist in Unesco’s culture unit.
He cited the Hotel le Royal, a
favourite haunt of A-list visitors from its opening in 1929,
and then of journalists covering
the war in the 1970s, recently
restored to its former glory by
hotel operator Raffles into one
of the city’s most desirable addresses.
Another success story is the
Van restaurant near the river,
built to house the Indochina
Bank in the mid 19th Century,
restored by the prosperous Van
family a few years ago and now
considered one of the best restaurants in town.
Beyond the hospitality sector,
there is also a market for prestigious official property.
The old post office building now houses the Ministry of
Posts and Telecommunications,
while another French-built edifice has been repurposed as the
The Phnom Penh old Post Office, built in the late 19th Century and
which now houses the Telecommunications Ministry.
British Ambassador’s residence.
And appropriately enough,
the offices of the United Nation’s cultural arm Unesco are
in a pristine late 19th-century
villa built in the Sino-Khmer
colonial style, with a pillared,
two-storey facade.
But the market is limited for
such high-profile restorations,
as the current owners of The
Mansion are experiencing.
Built as the private residence
of a wealthy Cambodian trader
in French protectorate style between 1910 and 1920, The Mansion is struggling to find a buyer
despite its prime location.
It was abandoned in the 1975
fall of Phnom Penh, then occupied between 1979 and 1989 by
the Vietnamese army after the
defeat of the Khmer Rouge.
The current owners, who run
the Foreign Correspondents’
Club behind it, hold cultural
events there, imbued with a
sense of history by the oncegolden walls now pockmarked
by bullets, damp and mould.
The charm is not to all tastes.
A “for sale” sign has hung on the
outside wall for several months
now, but real-estate firm CBRE
has had few serious enquiries about the “unique colonial
“A lot of people have been interested and we have had a few
offers,” from both Cambodians
and foreigners, but none for the
$3.5mn asking price, she said.
“The price for the mansion is
higher than the normal property but we can only market to
a limited group of people,” said
Thida Ann, an associate director at CBRE Cambodia.
If the cost proves too high,
The Mansion may not be safe
from the wrecking ball, despite
its classified status with the
Ministry of Land Management
and Urban Planning.
In principle, a 1996 law says
any building “proposed for
classification or classified” may
not be altered without authorisation. But in practice there
is “nothing strictly enforced”
when it comes to French heritage buildings, Unesco’s Delanghe said.
“There is no real preservation,” he said.
Many potentially classifiable
buildings have been demolished
to develop the high-value land
they occupied. The distinctive
Bridge Tower House, built as a
French administration building
in 1890, was razed in 2012 despite
opposition from preservationists,
including Unesco. A modern,
colourful auto shop now sits in
its place, to the consternation of
activists who say the owner had
committed to rebuilding in the
same style.
“It’s not really expensive if
you want to restore,” says Sylvain Ulisse, a project manager
at the Heritage Mission, a joint
awareness-raising initiative by
the French embassy and the government.
tonomy, have denied attacking the convoy.
The conflict, the first major unrest in the region since
2009, has renewed doubts
over a government attempt to
forge a nationwide ceasefire in
a country peppered with ethnic insurgencies.
government has put the ceasefire agreement at the heart of
its reforms as the nation prepares for a general election later this year.
raised fears those efforts are
Around the
world bike
rider dies
Chilean man attempting to bike across five
continents in five years
has died after a road accident
in Thailand, a news report said
Juan Franscisco was killed on
a road in northeastern Thailand,
450km away from Bangkok, by
an errant pick up driver, according to Kapook news website.
The collision also injured his
wife and child who were travelling with him but their injuries
are not thought to be life threatening.
Franscisco was on the last
leg of a five year journey which
started in November 2010 and
was due to be completed in November of this year in Australia.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Aussies brace for
cyclone aftermath
Right: Residents queue for fuel at
one of the two petrol stations open
in Rockhampton.
Rockhampton, Australia
ustralia braced yesterday for
heavy rains and floods after
weather authorities downgraded two cyclones that lashed its north
and northeast, damaging homes and
snapping power links, but there were
no reports of casualties.
Troops were on standby to help with
clean-up efforts in the northeastern
state of Queensland after heavy rains
and winds in excess of 200kph brought
by Cyclone Marcia on Friday.
Weather authorities warned of destructive winds, heavy rains and abnormally high tides as rivers swelled,
but officials said the storm’s impact
had been weaker than expected.
“At this stage, everyone is breathing
a deep sigh of relief that there has been
no loss of life,” Queensland Premier
Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters
in state capital Brisbane.
However, most properties in the
northern Queensland towns of Rockhampton and Yeppoon had been left
without power, she added.
Queensland emergency services officials said at least 540 homes were
damaged or flooded in the worst-affected areas of Rockhampton and Yeppoon.
The weather bureau said a severe
thunderstorm was affecting the Sunshine Coast and it warned of flash
flooding in Brisbane and the Gold
Schools and businesses were closed
as the storm approached and some
13,000 volunteers and firefighters put
on standby, ABC reported.
Emergency services received more
than 3,000 calls in 24 hours, the
broadcaster said.
Television images showed sharks
Below: Brisbane’s Central Business
District buildings are shrouded by
low clouds and rain from Tropical
Cyclone Marcia.
Yeppoon resident Demelza Bischoff walks onto the roofless veranda of her
home, after it was damaged by Cyclone Marcia.
washed ashore or swimming further
upstream as tides rose.
The worst of the rain would pass by
today as the storm is moving quickly
back out to sea, the weather bureau
In Rockhampton, long queues
snaked out of the only fuel station left
with the power to run its petrol pumps,
as people flocked to refill cars and get
fuel to operate generators.
Residents ducked fallen trees and
power lines to gather at the few automatic cash machines still functioning.
Heavy machinery was pressed into
assist efforts to clear debris on the road
to Yeppoon, the coastal town hit hardest by Marcia, but fallen power lines
left many roads impassable.
The fury of the cyclone drove
Demelza and Shaun Bischoff out of
their home, along with their three
“It felt like the whole house was go-
ing to crumble,” Demelza Bischoff told
Reuters, describing how storm damage had forced the family to move from
room to room of their home.
“It started getting really bad, the tin
roof started lifting and the ceiling blew
out,” she said. “Then we
took shelter under the kitchen table
with mattresses all around us.”
Now back home, they put furniture
and clothing in their garden to dry out
in the hot sun.
In northern Australia, teams were
heading to two communities on the
remote islands of Goulburn and Elcho to weigh up damage after Cyclone
Lam, packing wind speeds ranging up
to 240kph, began to lash the Northern
Territory late on Thursday.
The weather bureau has also downgraded that storm, to a tropical low
moving in a south-westerly direction,
with warnings of heavy rainfall, flash
flooding and some storm surges.
Chinese investors boost Australia’s ‘golden ticket’ visa scheme
The past year has seen a five-fold increase in the number
of visas Australia grants to wealthy foreign investors, a
Melbourne-based newspaper reported yesterday.
Chinese nationals make up about 89% of the 651 Significant
Investor Visa recipients since the scheme came into effect in
2012, The Age said.
It has so far pumped A$3.2bn ($2.5bn) into the economy.
The visa is available to foreigners who invest a minimum of
A$5mn for a minimum of four years.
They become eligible for permanent residence afterwards.
The state of Victoria has attracted the most investment, with
New South Wales second, The Age said.
So-called “golden ticket” visa holders are exempt from rules
that prevent foreigners from acquiring personal property,
but such purchases are not included in the basic investment
under the scheme.
The report quoted Assistant Minister for Immigration
Michaelia Cash as saying that the number of visas granted is
expected to grow by about 800 by the end of the financial
The government plans to introduce a new Premium Investor
Visa on July 1 to encourage more high net worth individuals
to settle in Australia.
The investment threshold will be set at A$15mn.
A view of artillery fire and landing exercises
guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
(above) in these undated photos released by
North Korea’s KCNA in Pyongyang.
N Korea leader guides military drill
orth Korea’s leader Kim JongUn has guided a military drill
simulating an attack and seizure of a frontline South Korean island, Pyongyang’s state media said
The drill came as tensions grow
ahead of an annual US-South Korea
joint Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military
exercise that is reportedly to start early
next month.
Artillery units were among the
troops taking part in the drill on the
islets of Mu and Jangjae “in the biggest hotspot in the southernmost part
of southwestern front”, Pyongyang’s
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)
The defence detachment on Mu Islet shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong
island in 2010 in an angry reaction to
a firing drill conducted by the South
near the disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea, killing four South Koreans.
Kim Jong-Un in 2012 visited Mu and
Jangjae, honouring the troops on Mu
Islet with the title of “Hero Defence
He made two more trips to the
frontline islands in 2013 and threatened to “wipe out” Yeonpyeong Island
and other South Korean islands near
the border.
“Whenever the artillerymen hit targets, Kim Jong-Un expressed his great
satisfaction, saying that they were very
good at the concentration of fire and
such shell-fire would remove the enemy island totally,” KCNA said.
He called for the entire North Korean army to step up training to “bring
the anti-US confrontation to the final
conclusion by crushing the enemies
promptly in case they pounce upon the
DPRK (North Korea)”, it added.
Both sides complain of frequent
maritime incursions by the other.
The disputed sea border in the Yel-
low Sea saw deadly clashes in 1999,
2002 and 2009.
In October last year, naval patrol
boats of the two rivals briefly exchanged warning fire near Yeonpyeong
The de-facto maritime boundary
between the two Koreas – the Northern Limit Line – is not recognised by
Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean
The war ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, leaving the two
Koreas still technically at war.
North Korea launched winter drills
in November last year and since then,
Kim has inspected 10 different military
units, according to South Korea’s defence ministry.
He has been urging the military to
complete war preparations this year,
the defence ministry last week told the
National Assembly’s defence committee.
China slams Modi visit to disputed region
hina has lodged an official protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to a
border region claimed by both countries.
China disputes the entire territory
of the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet.
Its historic town Tawang, a key site
for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during a 1962
“The Chinese government has never
recognised the so-called ‘Arunachal
Pradesh’,” a statement on the Chinese
foreign ministry’s website said on Friday, adding that Modi’s visit was “not
conducive” to developing bilateral relations.
Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told India’s Ambassador to China
Ashok Kantha yesterday that China
was firmly opposed to the visit.
“The Indian side’s insistence on
arranging activities by leaders in the
disputed region infringes on China’s
territorial sovereignty and interests,
magnifies the dispute on the border issue, and violates the consensus to appropriately handle the border issue,” a
separate ministry statement cited Liu
as saying.
Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh on
Friday to inaugurate the opening of a
train line and power station.
He did not mention China but
pledged billions of dollars of investment to develop the region.
“I assure you that you will witness
more development in the state in the
next five years than it has seen in the
last 28 years,” Modi said, addressing a
huge crowd.
Faster transport links and exploitation of Arunachal Pradesh’s hydroelectric potential are the keys to fighting poverty and bringing about rapid
development in the frontier state, he
In January, China objected to statements by Japan’s foreign ministry supporting India’s claim to the region.
A visit by US President Barack
Obama to India in January was widely
seen as a sign Modi is moving closer to
the United States, to offset rising Chinese influence in Asia and, in particular, intensifying activity by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.
Issued in Public Interest by
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
scandal roils UK
press landscape
The loss of credibility could be a huge
blow to the press in general
ne of Britain’s most storied newspapers has been accused of self-censoring for commercial gain, raising
awkward questions about a centuries-old
press culture which has prided itself on its
no-holds-barred approach to truth telling.
The 160-year-old Daily Telegraph strongly
denied accusations in a resignation letter by
one of its best known writers, who said the
paper had soft-pedalled coverage of a banking scandal to curry favour with an advertiser.
Britain’s press, known collectively as “Fleet
Street” in reference to the London lane where
newspapers were based for generations, is
proud of its independence - able to make or
break a political reputation with a merciless
In his letter, Peter Oborne, known for caustic attacks on politicians as the Telegraphs’s
chief political commentator, said the paper
had curbed coverage of reports that the Swiss
arm of Europe’s biggest bank HSBC helped
clients avoid taxes. The Telegraph, he wrote,
wanted to keep the bank’s advertising.
“(It) amounts to a form of fraud on its readers,” he wrote. “If major newspapers allow
corporations to influence their content for
fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy
itself is in peril.”
The Telegraph came out fighting, denying
it had pulled punches in covering HSBC and
saying it had “no apologies” for journalism
guided by a pro-business editorial line.
“We are proud to be the champion of British business and enterprise,” it wrote in an
editorial. “In an age of cheap populism and
corrosive cynicism about wealth-creating
businesses, we have defended British industries including the financial services industry
that accounts for almost a tenth of the UK
economy, sustains 2mn jobs and provides
around one in every eight pounds the exchequer raises in tax.”
It also lashed out at rival news sources
that had criticised it: “None is the paragon of
moral or journalistic virtue that their criticisms this week might suggest,” it said. “All
have their own self-serving agendas, both
political and commercial.”
Both the accusation and the Telegraph’s
rebuttal are likely to sting for a newspaper industry struggling to adapt as readership declines and advertisers move online.
Fleet Street’s reputation was sorely damaged in 2011 when Rupert Murdoch shut
down the News of the World, a Sunday
tabloid, after it emerged that its reporters
had illegally eavesdropped on voicemails
of countless celebrities and a murdered
Lengthy public hearings were held into
journalists’ ethics, revealing uncomfortably
close ties between press bosses and those who
run the country.
Conservative prime minister David Cameron was forced to apologise for hiring as his
spokesman a former News of the World editor who was later jailed. Labour former prime
minister Tony Blair acknowledged that he had
given advice to another former News of the
World editor on how to deal with the scandal.
HSBC headquarters, London
The right-leaning Daily Telegraph, nicknamed the “Torygraph” for its longstanding support for the Conservative - or
Tory - Party, is chided by its critics for appealing to the middle
classes and the middle aged.
But it is the biggest-selling of
Britain’s “broadsheets”, the serious-minded national newspapers that distinguish themselves
from the popular “tabloids” traditionally printed on paper half
the size. It gained stature in 2009
French firm stumps up
for an expose of lawmakers’ expense claims that resulted in resignations and prosecutions on all
sides in parliament at Westminster.
However the paper, like its
rivals, has cut staffing levels in
recent years as it adapted to the
tightened financial times.
In Oborne’s resignation letter
he lamented what he described
as a loss of standards, saying stories were chosen for the number
of online visits they bring rather
than the news value. The paper
had recently run a story about
a woman with three breasts, he
“Telegraph readers are a pretty loyal bunch but in terms of
the paper’s status I think it will
cause enormous, long-lasting
damage,” Steven Barnett, communications professor at the
University of Westminster, said
of Oborne’s letter. “It harms its
ability to say ‘We stand for truth
and accuracy’.”
Crime boss
forced to
hand over
Evening Standard
A woman walks past the construction site of the partially built ‘The Pinnacle’ skyscraper in Bishopsgate, London. French real estate consortium Axa Real Estate has clinched
a £300mn deal to buy the site near Liverpool Street station in the city’s Square Mile. Since construction stopped three years ago, the building has become known as ‘The
Concrete company forced to
rebrand after drivers abused
Evening Standard
Taylor said drivers had suffered verbal abuse because of the trucks’
concrete mixing company called ‘Jim’ll Mix
It’ has been forced into a name change after
drivers were bombarded with verbal abuse in
the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
The firm’s managing director confirmed the move
having previously resisted calls to rebrand his business.
Jimmy Taylor said his trucks would now be daubed with the company’s new name, ‘MixIt’, in light of
the abuse aimed at drivers.
The previous name was a reference to hit BBC
show Jim’ll Fix It, hosted by serial child abuser Jimmy Savile.
“People would come up at traffic lights and point
and be abusive,” he told Construction News.
“I was adamant I wouldn’t change [the name] but
because of the extent of what he did, we used to get
abusive language.
“People used to sit at traffic lights and say ‘you
*****, tell your governor to change the name’.
“I don’t need that. If you’re not taking it seriously when someone is shouting at someone driving
down the road, what more can you do. We had to do
it to get rid of that.”
The company, based in east London, employs
around 40 drivers and has been operating since
Taylor previously refused to change his company’s name after the scandal broke in 2012.
He said at the time: “I am who I am. I’m in concrete, my name’s Jim.”
But, speaking to Construction News this week,
Taylor added: “I’m still known as Jim’ll Mix It. I’m
nothing to do with him, you get a nickname and
that’s it.
“By dropping the brand, corporately I think it has
shown I’m more of a proper company.
“From the bad of it some good things have come.
I’m an eastender, a cockney boy. We’ll keep on
growing, I’ve got lots of years in me yet.”
fugitive crime lord
from London who was
dubbed “Don Car-leone” because he owned so many
expensive cars has handed
over four of them after admitting that they were bought
with the proceeds of crime.
Alexander Surin, who is on
the run in Dubai after being
convicted of drug trafficking in
France, agreed to give up three
Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce and the
profits from the sale of a Bugatti Veyron as the National
Crime Agency went to the high
court to seize his assets.
He also surrendered his flat
in St John’s Wood, money from
the sale of three other London
homes, two houses in Kent and
cash in bank accounts in a settlement agreed in his absence.
The deal comes over a
year after his wife Jasbinder
Boparan appeared in court to
deny that she was living off
her husband’s crimes, despite
spending £17,000 a month in
north London.
Surin, whose original name
was Michael Boparan, and his
wife have now accepted that
£4.5mn of assets seized from
them by the NCA were acquired through crime.
The agency said that the cars
and the property had been paid
for with the profits from the
“importation into Europe and
the UK of multiple tonnes of
ketamine” as well as “money
laundering, mortgage fraud,
and tax evasion”.
Donald Toon, the director of the agency’s economic
crime command, said: “The
denial to Surin of his extensive assets demonstrates the
determination of the National
Crime Agency to take every
opportunity to disrupt serious
The assets given up by the
pair include a Ferrari California convertible, a Ferrari
GT 599, a Ferrari Enzo, and a
Rolls-Royce Phantom found at
Stansted airport with a suitcase full of cash in the boot.
They have also agreed to
hand over a three-bedroom
flat in St John’s Wood and the
proceeds of the sale of another
flat in St John’s Wood and two
Jasbinder Boparan spent
£17,000 a month
houses in Kensington. Two
homes and land in Margate
have also been forfeited along
with profits from the sale of a
Range-Rover and the Bugatti
The NCA brought civil proceeding against the couple on
the grounds that they were
using criminal profits to fund
their lifestyle.
Surin is wanted by the
French authorities following
his conviction for trafficking ketamine, but is in Dubai
where his home is understood
to be in the Emirate Hills gated
community. Houses there cost
as much as £7mn.
When still known as
Michael Boparan, he was jailed
in Britain in 1996 for five years
after being convicted over a
£1.3mn bank fraud in which he
and his gang forged bank cards
and plundered more than 800
accounts, spending the proceeds on fast cars, expensive
holidays and hostess bars.
Another conviction for his
involvement in a £105mn customs fraud was quashed at the
court of appeal because of errors in the way that the prosecution presented the case
against him and six other defendants.
Jaspinder Boparan continued to live in London after her
husband’s departure abroad
and told the high court during
an earlier phase of the asset
seizure proceedings that she
was living off money provided
by her brother, a hotel owner
in Canada.
Mrs Boparan also claimed
that she was facing “very difficult times” despite spending
£17,000 a month and living in
one of London’s most sought
after districts and denied receiving any finance from her
fugitive husband.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Ex-bouncer ‘joins
militia against IS’
It appears Britain is now providing
fighters to both sides of the conflict
Evening Standard
former bouncer at a Staines nightclub has said he has sold his home
and moved to Iraq to join the fight
against Islamic State.
Tim Locks, 38, who used to work the
door at Cheekies nightclub, claims to have
joined a Christian militia group after making contact with them online.
The 6’2”, 17 stone man mountain revealed he decided on the move when he
watched news of the plight of Yazidis
stranded on Mount Sinjar last summer.
He told MailOnline: “I just thought, ‘I
have a great life, job, beautiful house’ and
I thought ‘it is time to help someone else’.
“Any society which kills people, cuts
people’s heads off needs to be challenged.”
Locks said his house sold quickly, and
revealed he travelled to Iraq from Heathrow via Dubai in the New Year.
He said contacts with the DwekhNawsha militia group paid for extra baggage
to allow him to bring kit with him, and he
arrived safely in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan.
Locks said the group he is fighting
alongside “feel like family already” - but
added of his own relatives: “They are petrified for my safety and that is very understandable.
“But they knew they would not be able
to talk me out of this.”
Tim Locks, apparently pictured with militia fighters in Iraq.
He now says he is free to come and go as
he pleases, and told how his former job as a
self-employed builder helped him through
the militia group’s vetting process.
Locks, from Bracknell in Berkshire,
added: “’We are due to go to the frontline
any day now to help train the locals and
help defend the line against Daesh (Islamic
“I didn’t come out here to be a celebrity
but it is a way of gaining awareness. Some
people move out here to make a name for
He also hit out at the British response
to Islamic State, saying: “’The western
world needs to pull their finger out. Send
us some kit, send us some food. Send us
weapons. If you don’t send it, you are
failing the world.
“We are here. We are the boots on the
ground. There is no pay. I am here to protect the local people and democracy. But
we are seriously under resourced.
“Britain has done nothing to help the
situation. I have done more to help people
here in a week than David Cameron has
done. He has done nothing.”
Lock admitted that he is now unsure
whether he would be be able to return to
Britain should he seek to.
“I don’t know if I will be welcome back
in the UK,” he said.
“I have sold my house. I have no time
limit, no reason to return until the job is
done. If I do leave, I may never be able to
get back.”
His mission comes after a teenage serving British soldier is understood to have
joined Kurdish peshmerga forces to fight
Islamic State.
A Foreign Office spokesman told the
Evening Standard they were not aware of
Lock’s case, adding: “We would only be
aware if the consulate was involved.”
Two Men jailed for raping lost
teenage tourist in London park
Evening Standard
wo men who raped a vulnerable
Polish tourist in a London park just
hours after she had arrived in the
UK have each been jailed for 14 years.
Mojtaba Changi, 33, of Lea Bridge Road,
Walthamstow, and Saeed Fatemi, 20, of
Blackthorn Court, Hall Road, Leyton, were
sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on
They targeted their 18-year-old victim, who has been left so traumatised
she hasn’t told her family, after she became separated from friends on a night
Police said she bumped into Fatemi in
Kingston town centre as she searched
for them. He offered to help, walking
around with her for 45 minutes while
his accomplice Changi followed quietly
Fatemi then led his victim into Canbury
Gardens, where the pair pinned her down
and raped her.
After the traumatising ordeal, the victim was led from the park and told to run,
which she did before raising the alarm to a
taxi driver at Kingston Bridge.
Detectives tracked down Fatemi and
Mojtaba Changi and Saeed Fatemi
Changi, whose DNA was found on the victim’s clothing.
As officers were arresting Fatemi at his
home on September 17, four days after the
attack, Changi coincidentally showed up
at the house and was also detained.
Detective Constable Ben Hawkins, from
Scotland Yard’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said:
“The evidence points strongly to this being a pre-meditated and aggressive assault
on a young woman who had only arrived in
the UK eight hours previously.
“She had come on a 10-day holiday to
see friends and because of the events of that
night, ended up spending most of her holiday with the police and medical services.
“She was deliberately targeted by
Changi and Fatemi owing to her vulnerability at the time.
“So traumatised and confused by the
assault is she, that even now she has not
felt able to tell her parents and family back
in Poland.
“She has shown remarkable bravery in
flying back to the UK and giving evidence
live in court and I am delighted that the
trust she put in the Metropolitan Police to
reach a successful conclusion for her has
been justified.”
A 56-year-old man was today fighting
for his life after a violent attack in a quiet
residential street in south London.
Scotland Yard detectives are appealing
for information about the early morning
assault in Tulse Hill on Thursday.
Officers were called shortly before 8am
to Bannister Close, where police said they
found a “large pool of blood”.
The man was later discovered with
multiple head injuries nearby following a
search of the area. He was taken to a south
London hospital where he remains in a
critical condition, police said.
No arrests have been made and detectives from the Met’s specialist crime command are among those investigating.
A man was today in hospital after he was
reportedly “sliced in the face” in a knife
attack in south-east London.
Police said the man, aged in his late 20s,
was attacked outside a Tesco supermarket
in Woolwich on Friday evening.
Witnesses said the area around the
nearby library was taped off after the attack.
One person tweeted: “Dunno why I
find it so surprising that someone’s been
stabbed in Woolwich, but it’s a bit shaking
seeing a person on the floor bleeding.”
Another posted: “Someone got sliced in
A spokeswoman said: “Police were
called to Love Lane at around 6.16pm on
Friday after reports that a man had been
“The victim, in his late 20s, is in a stable
condition in hospital.”
Police are now hunting a suspect described as a black man, around 30 years
old who was wearing a tracksuit, a bomber
jacket and a baseball cap.
donor plans
huge dig at
Evening Standard
Lib-Dem donor has
been blasted by his
Belgravia neighbours
over his “grotesque” plans for
a two-storey basement under
his £20mn townhouse.
Bhanu Choudhrie, who describes himself as an “entrepreneur and philanthropist”,
was given the green light for
the works a year after he was
arrested by the Serious Fraud
He was questioned with his
father, tycoon Sudhir Choudhrie, as part of the agency’s
probe into Rolls-Royce’s overseas business practices. Both
men denied any wrongdoing
and say they are co-operating
with the authorities.
Last week, Westminster
council approved Choudhrie’s
plans to dig beneath the sixstorey home and mews house
to build a cinema and leisure
complex, including a large
One next-door neighbour,
a mother whose family have
lived in the area for three
generations, said: “This is all
that’s grotesque in the world.
Nobody lives here and there’s
nothing left.”
Brian Callan, a property
manager who lives opposite,
said: “We are pretty powerless
to stop it. It was a nightmare
when the last people did it so
I expect it will be again with
lorries going up and down the
street, but unfortunately it’s
just part of London living.”
The plans include a steam
room, sauna and treatment
room in the basement, all accessed by lift. Choudhrie will
also demolish a conservatory
to the rear of the Grade II-listed property and replace it with
a dining room, family room
and roof terrace overlooking
Choudrie’s father and their
affiliated companies have
given more than £1 million to
the Lib Dems.
the mews home, which houses
two employees and a gym.
The businessman lives at
the property with his wife
Simrin, an interior designer,
and their young son. In 2011
Choudhrie’s wife posed as a
penniless pregnant woman
to appear on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire, in which she
donated £100,000 to a centre
for vulnerable people in Sheffield.
A spokesman for the
Choudhries said: “Planning
permission has been granted
and that’s that. As far as the
SFO investigation goes they
have not been interviewed or
talked to again.”
An SFO spokesman said:
“No charges have been
brought as yet.”
Choudhrie is CEO at family
business C&C Alpha Group,
which runs care homes in the
UK. He, his father and their affiliated companies have given
more than £1mn to the Lib
Dems in the past decade.
Bhanu Choudhrie’s mansion in Belgravia.
Snow hits south-east as wintry blast grips UK
Evening Standard
wintry blast saw parts of southeast England wake up to a covering
of snow yesterday morning.
Forecasters said more freezing temperatures could bring further wintry showers
and even blizzards to parts of the UK.
The warning came after rain turned to
snow overnight in areas of East Sussex and
Kent, as well as parts of northern England.
The Met Office said there is a possibility
of forecast rain turning to wintry showers
again and overnight after the dusting.
Forecaster Kirk Waite said strong winds
across much of the country could bring
blizzard conditions to areas of the Highlands as temperatures drop to as low as
A band of wintry showers will sweep in
from the east today morning which could
bring heavy snow to high levels routes in
northern England and Scotland and some
accumulations at lower levels in some
Scottish areas.
But the showers are expected to move
away later in the day.
Simon Partridge, also of the Met Office,
said: “The whole of the country will experience strong winds and severe gales over
the course of tomorrow, meaning it will
be a wet and windy day for many - and a
snowy and windy day for northern parts.
“Winter is not over just yet.”
High tides on the River Thames left cars
submerged under several feet of water in
west London on Friday.
Flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency for riverside properties
over the weekend amid warnings due to
exceptionally high tides on the Thames.
And burst river banks at Richmond
left cars submerged under floodwater on
Friday afternoon.
Warnings were also in place for parts
of Twickenham, Chiswick and Bermondsey.
Thames Barrier operators earlier
warned of “very high tides” on Friday afternoon and today.
In spring last year, high tides at Richmond saw a luxury yacht crash into a
bridge due to rapidly rising water levels.
The Thames Barrier is expected to fit
to protect London from flooding until
around 2050, according to the Environment Agency.
The 1,700ft-long shield, which started
operating in 1983, protects about 1.2mn
people and property worth £200bn.
Last winter, the barrier was closed a
record-breaking 50 times between December 2013 and the end of February 2014
as parts of the south-east were hit by severe flooding.
Snow near Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, on Saturday.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Putin says Russia’s military strength is unmatchable
Thousands attend
pro-Putin rallies
ens of thousands of
strongman Vladimir Putin’s supporters rallied
yesterday near the Kremlin walls,
a year after protests in neighbouring Ukraine led to the fall of
its pro-Russian president.
The demonstrators, some
dressed in fatigues, waved Russian flags and many sported the
black and orange St George ribbon, a symbol of victory over
Nazi Germany that pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists have
adopted as their badge of honour.
Police said up to 40,000 people turned out with around 1,000
attending a similar rally in the
second city of Saint Petersburg.
Critics claimed many were
paid to attend or bussed in.
“Yankee go home and take the
Maidan with you,” read one massive banner referring to Ukraine’s
pro-Western uprising that came
to be known as the Maidan protests.
“We don’t need Western ideology and gay parades,” said another placard, while a column of
Cossacks brandished a banner
reading “The Maidan is a disease.
We will treat it.”
Established early this year,
the umbrella movement that organised the rally, Anti-Maidan,
includes several groups representing bikers, Cossacks, athletes and Russian veterans of the
Afghan and Chechen wars, some
of whom have fought alongside
rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Members employed highly
emotive, aggressive language to
rouse the crowd at the apparently
choreographed event in support
of Putin, who has accused the
West of stirring the Ukraine unrest.
“I am calling on you to rally
around the Russian president at a
time when all of Russia’s enemies
are mobilising,” Alexander Zaldostanov, the leather-clad leader
of biker gang the Night Wolves,
told the rally.
One organiser, Nikolai Starikov, speaking from the stage,
called the Kiev protests “a smile
of an American ambassador” and
an “embryo of Goebbels”, referring to Hitler’s propaganda minister.
“A Maidan will not take place
in Russia,” announced singer
Victoria Tsyganova, dressed in a
red coat and red kerchief.
The instantly recognisable
strains of The Holy War, a famous
WWII-era song, emanated from
A worker from UralVagonZavod, a maker of battle tanks in the
Urals – which publicly supported
Putin during the height of winter
protests in 2011-2012 – accused
the opposition of betraying Russia reeling from the effects of
the economic crisis and Western
“Now that the country is going through hardships the opposition are rubbing their hands,”
said Alexei Balyberdin.
“I fully support Putin’s policies,” said a 37-year-old demonstrator, Ivan Blagoi in Saint
Petersburg. “I don’t want the
collapse of the country and a civil
war brought on in Ukraine by the
Critics say that the Moscow
event was organised with the
help from authorities, with many
participants brought in on buses
or paid to be there. Organisers
deny the claims.
After the Kiev uprising ousted Kremlin-backed president
Viktor Yanukovych last February, Russia annexed Crimea from
Ukraine and has since backed a
separatist insurgency in the east
of the country.
Starikov said the march was
the movement’s first major rally
aimed at discouraging the proWestern opposition from plotting a coup in Russia.
“Don’t even try. Don’t make
any attempts to rock the boat in
Russia,” he said in televised remarks.
State television gave ample
coverage to yesterday’s event and
said similar rallies had been held
across the country.
The opposition plans a protest
on March 1 against the Ukraine
conflict as well as Russia’s economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by Western sanctions
over Moscow’s support for the
Earlier this week a court jailed
top opposition activist Alexei
Navalny for two weeks in a move
that will most likely prevent him
from leading next weekend’s
The protest is set to take place
in southeastern Moscow, after
authorities denied permission
for the activists to march through
the city centre.
The Russian president remains
Russia’s most popular politician
despite hardships brought on by
the economic crisis and Western
Russian President Vladimir Putin said
on Thursday that other countries
should not have the illusion that they
can attain military superiority over
Russia, Interfax reported.
“No one should have the illusion that
they can gain military superiority
over Russia, put any kind of pressure on it. We will always have an
adequate answer for any such adventures,” he was quoted as saying in an
address dedicated to the Defenders’
of the Fatherland Day holiday next
Putin: We will always have an adequate answer.
People attend an ‘Anti-Maidan’ rally to protest the 2014 Kiev uprising, which ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. Thousands of Russians
marched in Moscow yesterday, carrying banners and signs disavowing the protests at Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan, last year that
ousted a Russian-backed president and created a rift between Ukraine and the West and Russia.
Case against doctors who treated protesters dismissed Denmark announces
Turkish court has dropped
a case against dozens of
doctors who treated protesters during nationwide antigovernment demonstrations in
2013, local media said.
The health ministry had filed
a lawsuit against the doctors for
setting up makeshift clinics for
thousands of protesters wounded
during the protests and for refusing to share personal information
with the government on the pro-
Verdict in
DSK case
due in June
verdict in the pimping
case against former International
Fund (IMF) chief Dominique
Strauss-Kahn will be given on
June 12, French media reports
said on Friday.
The case has garnered widespread international attention
as the latest in a series of legal
troubles for the former French
presidential hopeful, whose trial
along with 13 co-defendants
lasted three weeks.
Key charges against StraussKahn, known as DSK in the media, included aggravated pimping, in relation to a string of sex
parties set up in Lille, Paris and
Central to the case was
whether Strauss-Kahn organised the parties or knew that the
prostitutes in attendance were
paid to participate.
Group sex and paying for sex
are not illegal in France; knowingly attending or organising
gatherings where a third party
has paid for sexual services is.
During closing arguments, the
prosecutor called for StraussKahn to be acquitted, following
earlier concerns that there was
not enough evidence to bring
him to trial.
testers they treated.
The ministry had also accused
the doctors of “praising the
The Ankara court threw out
the case after hearing several
witnesses, including two opposition lawmakers and Metin Feyzioglu, the president of the Turkish Bar Association, Dogan news
agency reported.
Feyzioglu told the court that
the efforts of the doctors had
saved “hundreds of lives” and
that they should be “thanked”,
“not punished”.
The Turkish Union of Doctors
(TTB) released a statement following the decision and said that
doctors were “performing their
ethical duty” to provide care for
patients and ensure their confidentiality.
“This shameful case has finally come to an end. Providing
care for the service of humanity
cannot be considered a crime,” it
A relatively small environmentalist movement fighting to
save Istanbul’s Gezi Park from
an urban development scheme
spiralled into a nationwide wave
of protests in May-June 2013
against the perceived authoritarian tendencies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime
According to TTB, eight people died and thousands were
injured in ensuing violence as
police launched a brutal crackdown, frequently employing tear
gas and water cannon.
In January last year, Turkey
passed a law making it a crime
for doctors to provide emergency
first aid without a permit, which
critics said was an attempt to
block doctors from treating protesters.
A new legislation that is currently being debated in parliament that would boost police
powers against protesters, which
the opposition says will effectively create a police state under
Several trials related to the
protests are still taking place
across the country, including a
handful of cases of police accused of killing protesters.
According to a 2014 report by
Amnesty International, more
than 5,500 people have been
prosecuted in connection with
the Gezi Park protests.
Norway’s Muslims, Jews link up for peace
orwegian Muslims organised a peace vigil in
Oslo yesterday in a show
of solidarity with Jews a week
after fatal shootings in Denmark
targeted a synagogue and free
speech seminar.
As the small mainly elderly
Jewish congregation filed out
of the synagogue after Shabbat prayers, a group of young
Muslims, many of them teenage girls wearing headscarves,
formed a symbolic ring outside
the building to roaring applause
from a crowd of more than 1,000
“This shows that there are
many more peacemakers than
war-makers,” 37-year-old Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the organisers told the crowd.
“There is still hope for humanity, for peace and love
across religious differences and
background,” he added, before a traditional Shabbat ceremony was held in the open air
with many demonstrators adding their voices to the Hebrew
Norway’s chief rabbi appeared visibly moved when he
said it was the first time the ceremony had taken place outdoors
with so many people.
“It is unique that Muslims
stand to this degree against
anti-Semitism and that fills
us with hope ... particularly as
it’s a grassroots movement of
young Muslims,” said Norway’s
People gather as Norwegian Muslims create a human peace ring around the synagogue in Oslo.
Jewish community leader Ervin
Kohn, adding that the rest of the
world should “look to Norway”.
“Working against fear alone is
difficult and it is good that we
are so many here together today.”
There was a heavy police
presence at the event and sharp
shooters placed on surrounding
buildings but no incidents were
Several Muslim speakers said
that Islam was a religion of
peace and that “it’s true face”
had nothing to do with terrorism – despite what they said
was unfair reporting in certain
Nordic media which portrayed
Muslims “as a problem”.
The initiative by Norway’s
Muslim youth to link arms
with Norwegian Jews in a circle
around Oslo’s synagogue was an
effort to denounce recent violence by jihadists striking Jewish communities in France and
“We want to show our support to the Jews after what happened in Copenhagen,” Hibaq
Farah, a young Muslim student
of Somali origin told AFP.
Impetus for the vigil came
from some young people in
Norway’s Muslim community,
which represents roughly 3% of
the nation’s 5.3mn population.
They wanted to demonstrate
support for the country’s estimated 1,300 Jews, following
one of the attacks in Copenhagen last weekend that killed a
37-year-old security guard outside the city’s synagogue.
The gunman, named by police
as 22-year-old Omar El-Hussein – a Dane of Palestinian origin – was reportedly radicalised
by Islamists during a jail term.
Youssef Bartho Assidiq, a
Muslim youth leader, told AFP
that the Oslo event showed that
Muslims “stand up for freedom
of speech, stand up for freedom
of religion and stand up for each
$150mn security fund
enmark has announced
a $150mn package to
boost police and intelligence services days in a move
that followed deadly weekend
shootings in Copenhagen but
had been prepared in response
to deadly Islamist attacks in
Paris last month.
Of the 970mn crowns of new
spending, 415mn is for collection of information on terrorist threats from abroad. Some
350mn is for security services to monitor and respond
to emergencies and to improve
information technology.
Opposition parties welcomed the measures, but
pointed out that, since they
were launched in reaction to
the killings in January of 17
people in Paris, they failed to
address concerns arising from
last weekend’s attacks on a free
speech event and a synagogue
in Copenhagen in which two
people were shot dead.
Danish media have quoted
police officers as saying they
were ill-equipped and trained
to respond adequately to the
shootings over 13 hours from
Saturday afternoon until early
Sunday morning. Five police
officers were injured.
Police were sent out to hunt
down the attacker, 22-yearold Omar Abdel Hamid ElHussein, with poorly-fitting
bullet-proof jackets.
And it took 30 shots to kill
him, local media said.
“After the events of the
weekend, we can see that
there are additional challenges
around equipment, bulletproof vests for police officers,
training,” Lars Lokke Rasmussen, leader of the opposition
Liberal Party, told journalists.
The new spending announced after a government
meeting yesterday “is not the
full solution”, he said.
Some proposals in the new
package have caused a social
media debate as they suggest
surveillance methods relatively alien to Denmark’s trusting society, including keeping
a register of pre-paid phones
and collecting flight passenger
European Union exemptions
granted to Denmark mean it is
not subject to EU legislation on
flight data sharing.
Other measures in the package would empower police to
confiscate passports and ban
people from travelling if they
suspect their motives are to
engage in terrorism abroad.
Denmark is still in shock
from the weekend violence,
which Prime Minister Helle
Thorning-Schmidt called a
terrorist attack.
The attacker was known to
the police due to his links to a
gang in Norrebro, an area of
Copenhagen with a large immigrant community.
He had been convicted of
assault and released from prison a few weeks before the latest shootings.
Sweden ends job-seeker programme
The Swedish government is shutting down a job coaching
programme for new immigrants after complaints that it was being
used to recruit people for militant groups, a state official said
The decision comes days after a gunman killed two people in
neighbouring Denmark at a synagogue and an event promoting
free speech, increasing concerns about the threat of home-grown
militancy in the Scandinavia region.
“We have been alerted by participants that coaches have tried
to recruit them to terrorist organisations,” said Patrik Svensson,
spokesman for the National Labour Agency that runs the scheme,
adding that the government had passed on the information to the
Swedish security service to investigate.
Svensson said that the alleged recruitment drive might be linked to
the Islamic State group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Around 32,000 job-seekers have a coach assigned under
the scheme, which was introduced in 2010 to address high
unemployment among new immigrants.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Rebel build-up
near port city
alarms Ukraine
A Ukrainian serviceman watches trucks delivering the bodies of the fallen in recent fighting for an
exchange between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian armed forces, on a road outside Artemivsk,
eastern Ukraine.
Prisoner exchange takes
place under tattered truce
Zholobok, Ukraine
kraine’s military and proMoscow rebels swapped
scores of prisoners yesterday in rare compliance with a
truce so badly breached over the
past week that the US warned it
could escalate sanctions on Russia within days.
AFP journalists present in the
eastern town of Zholobok for the
exchange saw the rebels trade 139
Ukrainian soldiers for 52 separatist fighters held by the other
Some of the released soldiers
were wounded. A few had to walk
on crutches through a landscape
scarred and cratered by months
of fighting.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted confirmation
of the prisoner swap, calling the
freed soldiers “Ukrainian heroes”.
It was the biggest prisoner exchange in the conflict since December.
The insurgents said that their
prisoners had included some of
the troops seized when this week
they overran the strategic town
of Debaltseve, located between
Luhansk and the other rebel
stronghold of Donetsk.
That bloody offensive – which
killed 179 soldiers, according to
one Ukrainian presidential aide
– was the most egregious breach
of the UN-backed ceasefire that
came into effect February 15,
prompting furious reaction from
the US which blamed Russia.
The death toll of 179 soldiers in
the month-long battle over Debaltseve was given by Yuri Biryukov, an aide to Poroshenko, on his
Facebook page.
If that figure is confirmed,
it would represent one of the
bloodiest losses suffered by the
Ukrainian side in the 10-month
But Kiev is officially giving a
much lower toll.
Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said yesterday that the government’s tally of troop deaths in
the retreat from Debaltseve this
week was 20.
He added that 112 soldiers had
been taken prisoner, while 2,500
had braved rebel fire to flee to
safety on Wednesday.
Germany and France, which
brokered the Ukraine truce, still
stand behind it despite the many
violations. They say it is the only
solution towards ending a conflict that the UN estimates has so
far cost the lives of 5,700 people.
“We don’t have any illusions”
about the difficulty involved,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting French
President Francois Hollande in
Paris on Friday.
Under the truce, both sides
were to observe a ceasefire, withdraw heavy weapons from the
frontline by March 3 and carry
out a prisoner exchange.
If those steps could be met,
they were then to conduct negotiations on greater autonomy in
rebel-held areas, and eventually
restore Ukraine’s control over all
of its border with Russia.
But Kiev and the rebels continue to trade accusations of
shelling, mortar rounds and
rocket strikes targeting their positions.
I’ll be back, vows Yanukovych
Ukraine’s former pro-Kremlin
president Viktor Yanukovych
(pictured), whose ouster early last
year led to the insurgency raging
in east Ukraine, said in a Russian
interview excerpt released
yesterday: “I’ll be back.”
Russia’s Channel One published
the excerpt as both Ukraine and
Russia marked – very differently
– the one-year anniversary of the
pro-Western uprising in Kiev that
sent Yanukovych fleeing to exile
in Russia.
“I’ll be back and will do everything
in my power to make life easier in
Ukraine,” Yanukovych promised
in the interview, which will be
broadcast in full tomorrow.
He claimed that “my heart ached”
at seeing the conflict Ukraine has
slipped into, with “entire regions
Protesters who chased out
Yanukovych discovered the lavish
life he had been living – including
a sumptuous palace with a private
zoo, a replica pirate ship and pure
gold fittings – while the country
was mired in debt.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin has admitted he helped
Yanukovych flee.
Kiev has claimed Putin issued
a secret decree granting
Yanukovych Russian citizenship.
Interpol has put Yanukovych on
the international wanted list at
the behest of Kiev authorities on
charges of embezzlement and
financial wrongdoing. But Russia
is likely to turn down any request
to extradite him, Interfax news
agency said last month, citing a
source familiar with the situation.
Yanukovych, who has denied any
involvement in corruption, said
that he regretted not being able
to return to his country.
“God has left me alive, so it looks
like I’m needed for something ...
as soon as there is a possibility for
me to return, I will return and will
do everything I can to make life
better in Ukraine. And today, the
main task is to stop the war,” he
told Russian First channel.
Yanukovich fled from Kiev by
helicopter after three days of
shootings in which more than 100
civilians were killed. He later said
he had fled because he feared for
his life.
Kiev/Sakhanka, Ukraine
are building up forces
and weapons in Ukraine’s
southeast and the Ukrainian military said yesterday that it was
braced for the possibility of a
rebel attack on the port city of
The Kiev military accused
Russia on Friday of sending more
tanks and troops towards the
rebel-held town of Novoazovsk,
further east along the Sea of Azov
coast from Mariupol, expanding
their presence on what it fears
could be the next battlefront.
A rebel attack on Mariupol, a
city of half a million people and
potentially a gateway to Crimea, which Russia annexed last
March, would almost certainly
kill off a European-brokered
The ceasefire, which came
into force last Sunday, has already been badly shaken by the
rebel capture on Wednesday of
Debaltseve, a railway junction in
eastern Ukraine, forcing a retreat
by thousands of Ukrainian troops
in which at least 20 Ukrainian
soldiers were killed.
In London yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Moscow of “extraordinarily craven behaviour” at the
expense of Ukraine’s sovereignty
and said Washington and its allies were discussing imposing
more sanctions on Russia for undermining the ceasefire agreed in
Minsk, Belarus, on February 12.
Mariupol is the biggest city
still under government control in
the two rebellious provinces.
Novoazovsk, where Kiev said
Russia was reinforcing, lies
40km to the east along the coast
near the Russian border.
Military spokesman Andriy
Lysenko did not refer specifically to the movement of Russian tanks and troops but said
the separatists, who Kiev says are
supported by Russian weapons
and fighters, were conducting
sabotage and intelligence operations round the clock to test government defences.
“The adversary is carrying out
a build-up of military equipment, weapons and fighters in
the Mariupol area with the aim
of a possible offensive on it,”
Lysenko told journalists. “They
are sending out small sabotage
groups out almost every night.
We can see the activities of the
where military hardware, fighters and ammunition are being
One Ukrainian soldier had
been killed and 40 others had
been wounded in attacks in eastern Ukraine by the separatists in
the past 24 hours, he said.
A Reuters media team in Sakhanka, half-way between Mariupol and Novoazovsk, were told
by rebels that one of the local
roads had been closed “because
of fighting” though no shooting
or shelling could be heard.
Some rebels had formed a base
in a complex of houses in Bezimenne further up the coast and
there were dozens of well-armed
fighters milling around, some of
whom looked like Russian military special forces wearing Russian army patches and insignia
on their uniforms.
There were no signs of a new
influx of tanks and troops in the
region as mentioned by Kiev.
A couple of military trucks
could be seen on the road from
Novoazovsk to Mariupol and an
armoured personnel carrier was
parked in a forest near Shyrokine
also on the coastal road.
In Bezimenne, one rebel fighter who gave his nom de guerre as
Boxer denied the Kiev reports of
more Russian tanks and fighters
being sent to the area.
“It’s all a lie. The only people
fighting here are miners, tractor drivers and farm workers,” he
He said rebel fighters were observing the ceasefire agreement
worked out by Ukraine, Russia,
Germany and France in the Belarussian capital and had pulled
back heavy artillery from the
Mariupol area.
The United States, which is
considering tightening sanctions
against Russia and arming Kiev,
also says it has sighted Russian
reinforcements in the southeast.
Kerry, meeting his British
counterpart Philip Hammond
in London, said that the United
States was certain that Russia
was involved in the conflict and
was supporting the separatists.
“Russia has engaged in an absolutely brazen and cynical process over these last days,” he said.
“We are talking about additional
sanctions, about additional efforts, and I’m confident over the
next days people will make it
clear that we are not going to play
this game.”
Children play on multi-rocket systems Grad BM-21 yesterday in the
centre of Kiev during the opening of an exhibition displaying Russian
weapons captured from the pro-Russian rebels during battles in the
east of the Ukraine. The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine has
made a mockery of the West’s latest attempts to negotiate a ceasefire
but may ultimately pave the way for a more durable peace, say
Local residents gather outside a building in Debaltseve on Friday while a clean-up operation by separatist
rebels is under way.
German archdiocese richer than Vatican
he Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cologne in
Germany disclosed last
week that it is worth €3.35bn
($3.82bn), making it richer than
the Vatican.
Publication of the first full re-
port of its wealth reflects greater
financial transparency within
the German Church since Pope
Francis removed a bishop in Limburg, near Frankfurt, last year for
spending more than €30mn from
secret funds on a new luxury residence.
Also pressed by the Pope to reform its finances, the Vatican has
consolidated the various – and
sometimes hidden – accounts
of its many departments and
found it has assets of about $3bn
(€2.64bn), Cardinal George Pell,
the Holy See’s secretary for the
economy, said last week.
Announcing their report on
Ash Wednesday, the start of the
Lenten period of self-denial and
reflection, Cologne church officials stressed the extensive hold-
ings helped care for 2mn Catholics, 60,000 staff and 1,200
churches and chapels.
“The archdiocese doesn’t sell
products or earn profits from its
services, so it has to finance itself
mostly from its assets,” said financial director Hermann Schon.
Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches benefit from a
church tax imposed on all their
Western nations have held out
hope that they can revive the
Minsk peace deal, even though
the rebels ignored it by seizing Debaltseve in one of the
worst defeats for Kiev in the
10-month-old war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry
Peskov told Echo Moskvy radio
station that Russia was focused
on supporting the Minsk deal,
according to TASS news agency.
“An obsessive idea to force
someone to pay the cost ... is not
conducive to the resolution of the
situation in south-east Ukraine,”
Peskov was quoted as saying in
response to Kerry’s remarks on
the possibility of further sanctions against Russia.
members. The report said Cologne reaped €573mn from the
tax in 2013 and spent over half
of that on pastoral and charity
German dioceses had traditionally published their annual
operating budgets, but not a full
balance sheet.
Cologne, the country’s largest diocese, had a 2012 operating
budget of €939mn.
Its 2013 balance sheet, drawn
up under guidelines for large
German companies and approved by an independent auditor, showed its assets at €3.35bn.
Its landmark Gothic cathedral
along the Rhine is listed as being
worth only €27 – €1 for each of
the 26 land parcels beneath it and
€1 for the priceless building.
Police search for
homeless ‘bishop’
Police were searching yesterday
for a homeless man accused of
tricking his way into being hosted
by monasteries in Germany by
pretending to be a bishop.
The 66-year-old man faces a
series of charges including abuse
of title, theft and fare evasion.
The man, who grew up in
southern Germany but has no
fixed address, has been turning
up in churches and monasteries,
where he was occasionally
invited to stay.
Pope tells Mafiosi to repent
Vatican City
People take pictures of Pope Francis with their cellphones yesterday during a special audience for the Cassano allo Jonio diocese at the
ope Francis has urged
members of Italian organised crime groups to
repent, saying that the Catholic
Church would welcome them if
they promised to stop serving the
cause of evil.
He spoke during an audience at
the Vatican for pilgrims and anticrime activists from the southern
region of Calabria, home to the
‘Ndrangheta, mainland Italy’s
equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia.
“Open your hearts to the Lord.
The Lord is waiting for you and
the Church will welcome you if
your willingness to serve good is
as clear and public as your choice
to serve evil was,” he said.
When he visited Calabria last
June, he accused organised crime
groups of practising “the adoration of evil” and that said members had excommunicated themselves from the church by their
makes most of its money from
drug trafficking, has spread from
Calabria to northern Europe and
North America.
A 2013 study by Demoskopia,
an economic and social research
institute, estimated the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover at some
€53bn in 30 countries, equivalent
to about 3.5% of Italy’s total official economic output.
It has been much harder for
investigators to combat than the
Sicilian Mafia because its structure is more lateral than hierarchical and its tightly-knit families are harder to penetrate.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Man, girlfriend die after
stabbing each other
Kerala court dismisses
petition against Tharoor
Tests confirm police
officer died of swine flu
Kashmir IIT student
commits suicide
Delhi doctors threaten
to go on strike
A man stabbed a married woman in a busy
market in Patna following which the woman,
who was his girlfriend, snatched the knife
from him and stabbed him back. Both have
died, police said yesterday. Chanda Devi, a
mother of two children, was in her early 30s.
She died of her injuries yesterday, a day after
she was stabbed by Dheeraj Kumar, 25, who
was unmarried. He died of his injuries late
Friday. “Dheeraj Kumar and the woman fell to
the ground and both were rushed to hospital
where he died during treatment,” Deputy
Superintendent of Police Vivekanand said. Police
have recovered the knife as well as their mobile
The Kerala High Court has dismissed a petition
challenging the election of Thiruvananthapuram
Congress Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor,
his office said. A statement issued yesterday
said the petition challenging Tharoor’s 2014
election filed by Elias John was dismissed after
the court was satisfied with the MP’s replies.
John in his petition said during the election
campaign, Tharoor had brought out a progress
report of his achievements during his 2009-14
Lok Sabha term that had several false claims.
“Justice P Bhavadasan after going through the
replies that Tharoor had filed was convinced
and hence dismissed the petition and has closed
the case,” the statement said.
A senior police officer of Jammu and
Kashmir who died on February 19 due to
respiratory distress was suffering from H1N1
virus, doctors confirmed yesterday. With
this, the death toll in H1N1 virus infection in
Kashmir has gone up to five. Four people
suffering from the virus have so far died in
the Valley. A senior doctor at the hospital
where Sunil Gupta died on Thursday said
in Jammu yesterday: “We had sent his
samples for H1N1 testing. The test report
has confirmed that he was infected by H1N1
swine flu virus.” The doctor also confirmed
that three other patients have tested positive
for swine flu in Jammu.
A student from Jammu and Kashmir, studying
for his PhD at Indian Institute of Science in
Hyderabad, allegedly committed suicide on
Friday, police said yesterday. Tariq-ul-Islam,
27, was found hanging in a hostel room in
Hyderabad Central University, where he had
gone to meet his friends. He told his friends he
was going for Friday prayers but went to another
room and allegedly committed suicide. Police
suspect the student took the extreme step due
to depression. They said they were questioning
Islam’s friends to establish the actual reasons.
Islam was a doctoral fellow in the Department
of Liberal Arts at IIT-Hyderabad at Kandi in
neighbouring Medak district.
The Federation Of Resident Doctors Association
(FORDA) in the national capital has urged Health
Minister J P Nadda to immediately address
the issues related to security, availability of life
saving drugs and surgical equipment in Delhi’s
government hospitals. The doctors’ body said if
the situation was allowed to continue the resident
doctors in all government hospitals would go on
an indefinite strike from March 2. Balvinder Singh,
a senior resident doctor at Safdarjang Hospital
and president of FORDA said: “This is the last and
final time we have written to the ministry. We
have done this several times but hardly anything
happened. “If the situation remains the same, we
are going to sit on an indefinite strike,” Singh said.
Govt launches
online consular
system to help
Indians abroad
New Delhi
he central government
yesterday launched an
online consular grievance
system to help overseas Indians in
getting their problems addressed
in a time-bound manner.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj launched the MADAD (help), the online consular
grievances system, for registering
complaints of overseas Indians
facing various problems.
Such problems would now be
addressed by Indian missions
abroad in a time-bound manner.
A result of joint efforts of the
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the External Affairs Ministry (MEA), the project
will now enable overseas Indians
not just to register their complaints online but also track its
movement among the officials
tackling it, the minister said.
The overseas Indians could
send their complaints in writing,
which would be put online by the
mission officials. The new system will considerably reduce time
usually taken to solve problems, a
senior MEA official said.
The website has priorities for
the complaint - complaints concerning mortal remains is of very
high priority, followed by high
priority, priority and likewise.
Any complaint relating to “mortal remains” would be addressed
within two days.
Swaraj said while the grievances of overseas Indians came
under the domain of the MOIA its
remedies lie with the MEA.
This disconnect, the minister
said between the two ministries
was coming in the way of people
not getting the desired relief.
Describing the website as something beyond her expectation,
Swaraj said it would also put the
Indian missions abroad on their
toes as any inertia on their part in
dealing with the complaints would
reflect on the website.
They would get red-marked on
the website - a sign of negative
rating, she added.
Swaraj said “MADAD also fixes
accountability and responsibility” as it “it has booth incentives
and disincentives. It is compulsory for the overseas mission to
update to avoid being labelled as
She said the online system and
its regular updating place officials
in the mission in a state of competition. Also, the officials would
“fear a bad name from their own
Under the new system, a complaint would first go to a consular
officer and after a fixed duration
of time if he is unable to address
it, it would go to his superior and
eventually reach the ambassador
or the high commissioner.
All the complaints that would
be made at the mission-level
would be monitored by the ministry and could eventually land on
the table of the minister, Swaraj
said while inaugurating the website.
She said she received a good
response from people during her
Oman visit when MADAD was
being tried as a pilot project.
No official record of Modi being tea-seller
There is no record available that shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi was
a tea-seller on railway platforms or trains during his childhood, a Right to
Information (RTI) query has revealed. A Congress supporter and social
activist Tehseen Poonawalla, had sought information under the RTI Act from
the Railway Board about whether there was any record, registration number
or official pass issued to Modi allowing or entitling him to sell tea on trains
and at stations. Quoting the RTI response from the railway ministry, she said:
“No such information is available in TG III Branch of Tourism and Catering
Directorate of Railway Board.”
Vintage beauty
A participant fills petrol in his 1923 Rover car before the start of a vintage car rally in front of the historic Red Fort in the old quarters of Delhi yesterday. More than 200 vehicles
took part in the vintage and classic car rally.
PDP and BJP reach deal,
Sayeed likely to be the CM
Parties reach agreement
on contentious issues on
Kashmir like Article 370 and
AFSPA, say sources
eoples Democratic Party
patron Mufti Mohamed
Sayeed will be the new
chief minister of Jammu and
Kashmir after his party reached
an agreement for forming a government with the Bharatiya Janata Party, top party sources said
Sources close to Sayeed, who
returned to the winter capital
Jammu yesterday after spending a week in Mumbai, said an
agreement had been reached on
all contentious issues between
the PDP and the BJP.
“The main agreement has been
reached on the draft of the CMP
(common minimum programme)
on contentious issues like Article
370, armed forces special powers act (AFSPA) and the plight of
West Pakistan refugees,” a top
party source said.
“It has been agreed that without any written reference to it,
both parties would respect the
wishes of the people of the state
in consonance with the constitution of the country with regard to
Article 370.”
Under the agreement, Sayeed
will be the chief minister for the
full six years.
The PDP source who is holding
talks with the BJP in on government formation on behalf of his
party also said instead of accepting
the demand that the AFSPA be re-
Sayeed: to be CM
voked from the entire state within
one year, it has now been agreed
by the two parties that a committee would be formed which would
recommend gradual, but timely,
revocation of the controversial act
from areas in the state.
Sources in the BJP said: “The
PDP has agreed to the BJP demand that the CMP should accept that the problems faced by
West Pakistan refugees should
Activist Pansare dies
of bullet injuries
enior Communist Party of
India (CPI) leader and rationalist Govind Pansare,
who was shot and injured in
Kolhapur on February 16, died
in Mumbai late Friday. He was
Pansare, a leading light of
the anti-toll tax movement,
had been airlifted to Mumbai’s
Breach Candy Hospital on Friday evening, but died hours later
around 11.30pm.
Dean of Sir J J Group of Hospital, T P Lahane, who was monitoring Pansare’s condition, said
excessive bleeding in the lungs
had resulted in his death.
Maharashtra Chief Minister
Devendra Fadnavis, several of his
cabinet colleagues, top leaders
from the Bharatiya Janata Party,
Shiv Sena, Congress, Nationalist
Congress Party, CPI, the Republican Party of India and others
visited the hospital yesterday and
paid homage to Pansare.
“Maharashtra has lost a progressive leader. The state will
always remember his contribution for giving justice to the poor
and depressed classes,” Fadnavis
His body was later airlifted to
Kolhapur for the last rites.
Pansare and his wife were shot
as they were returning from a
morning walk in their hometown.
At least two assailants riding a motorcycle accosted them,
shouted Pansare’s name and shot
them from close range before escaping.
His wife Uma, who also sustained injuries, is undergoing
treatment in a Kolhapur hospital, where her condition was described as stable.
The modus operandi of the attack has been described by the
police as similar to the shooting of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar 18 months ago in Pune.
Pansare, renowned for his
advocacy for the rights of peo-
ple and workers from the lowest
strata of society, was born on November 26, 1933 in Kolhar village
in Ahmednagar district.
“His family had lost its farm to
local money-lenders and since
childhood Pansare has fought
against the existing social system, and later joined the CPI and
continued his fight on a larger
canvas,” Communist Party of
India (Marxist) leader Ajit Abhyankar said.
The youngest of five children,
Pansare moved to the erstwhile
princely state of Kolhapur for
higher studies at Rajaram College and later acquired a law degree.
Around the same time, he also
plunged into the Indian freedom movement and took part in
several agitations, including the
struggle to liberate Goa.
He also did not shy away from
criticising certain policies and
practices of the CPI due to which
the Communist movement failed
to become popular among the
masses in the country.
not be politicised, but treated as
a humanitarian issue that needs
to be addressed on humanitarian
Asked to comment on media
reports that government formation in the state was imminent
because the PDP and the BJP had
agreed on the draft of the CMP)
for governance, the party’s chief
spokesman Naeem Akhtar said in
Jammu: “I am meeting Mufti Sahib today and if anything has been
worked out, we will hold a briefing
about it during the day.”
Unlike his steady dismissal of
any agreement with the BJP during the last two months when
he maintained the “structured
dialogue between the BJP and
the PDP had not even started,”
Akhtar sounded less circumspect yesterday about his lack of
knowledge regarding an agree-
ment on the CMP with the BJP.
West Pakistan refugees are
over 25,000 families who came to
the state after the India-Pakistan
wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971.
Since these people were not
citizens of the erstwhile state of
Jammu and Kashmir as it existed
before its accession to India in
1947, they cannot vote in the assembly elections, nor buy property in the state.
These refugees cannot apply for
government jobs since all the state
government jobs in Jammu and
Kashmir are reserved for permanent residents of the state.
They can vote in parliament
elections, but not in the assembly elections since the state has a
constitution of its own in addition
to the country’s constitution and
both apply concomitantly to the
VS wants to quit party
post, says close aide
Alappuzha, Kerala
Activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) stage a protest
following the death of Pansare in Mumbai yesterday.
ormer Kerala chief minister
V S Achuthanandan wants
to quit as leader of opposition in the assembly, his close
aide said yesterday.
Berlin Kunjananthan Nair said
Achuthanandan, 91, spoke to him
adding the veteran Communist
Party of India (Marxist) leader
was deeply hurt.
“He told me that he will not
leave the party and will attend
the 22nd CPM Congress in Visakhapatnam in April. He wants to
quit as leader of opposition in the
assembly,” Nair, a fellow traveller
and a close aide of Achuthanandan, said.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered
at his residence and shouted slogans in his support.
Earlier, Achuthanandan was
censured at the state CPM conference here for breaching party
discipline, following which he
walked out.
He was followed by reporters
but the former chief minister
headed home in Punnapara and
did not speak to anyone.
Sources said he was deeply
hurt after a 50-page party report was tabled at the meeting,
attacking the veteran for his
constant breach of party discipline.
“He told me that when a
party member, belonging
to a higher committee
comes under attack in a
meeting, he must be given
an opportunity to reply to
the remarks made against
“He told me that when a party
member, belonging to a higher
committee comes under attack
in a meeting, he must be given
an opportunity to reply to the
remarks made against him,” Nair
The party politburo has already met and decided to talk to
Achuthanandan, who cancelled
his press meeting yesterday.
On Friday, CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan slammed
his arch rival and after an hour,
Achuthanandan hit back at Vijayan.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
vows tough
action over
ministry leak
Five company officials sent
to police custody by a Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi smiles as he shakes hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav during the pre-wedding
ceremony of Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, grand-nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Raj Laxmi, daughter of Lalu Prasad, in Saifai, yesterday.
Also seen are Mulayam Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and state Governor Ram Naik.
New Delhi
Modi attends pre-wedding P
rituals of Mulayam relative
triya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu
Prasad Yadav, on February 26 in
New Delhi.
Modi arrived in Saifai on a
special Indian Air Force (IAF)
plane. He was welcomed by
Mulayam Singh Yadav and his
family members.
Modi wished the groom and
interacted with other guests,
including Lalu Prasad.
The prime minister also
spoke to the children of the Yadav family and photographers
went into frenzy as they caught
the prime minister in a jovial
mood, chatting with the children.
Elaborate arrangements have
been put in place for the lavish
Etawah, Uttar Pradesh
ver 500 superior quality Swiss cottages were
setup at Saifai, the native village of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
for the pre-wedding ceremony of his grandnephew yesterday which was also attended
by Prime Minister Narendra
Over 100,000 invitations
were sent out for the ‘tilak’
ceremony of Tej Pratap Singh,
Lok Sabha MP from Mainpuri,
at Saifai, some 25km from Etawah. He will marry Raj Laxmi,
the youngest daughter of Rash-
Other than the Swiss cottages, 250 common cottages for
relatives have also been erected.
All hotels in Etawah, Mainpuri,
Kannauj and Firozabad are
booked for the guests.
A special stage has been
erected in the 80,000sq ft
area and food will be served to
the guests in German hangars
which are water and fire proof.
Five super speciality ambulances, 500 vehicles, over 3,000
policemen and 12 Indian Police
Service officials have been deployed on security duty.
Bollywood star Amitabh
Bachchan had some trouble as
his plane was not allowed by the
security agencies to land at the
Saifai air strip.
His private air plane was
diverted to Lucknow from
where he later took a chopper
to reach the native village of
the Yadavs.
Bollywood actor Salman
Khan, federal Home Minister
and senior Bharatiya Janata
Party leader Rajnath Singh, industrialist Anil Ambani, West
Bengal Governor Keshari Nath
Tripathi, Janata Dal (United)
president Sharad Yadav, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister
Babu Lal Gaur and Rajasthan
Governor Kalyan Singh also attend the function.
Chefs from five star hotels in Mumbai and New Delhi
prepared a lavish feast for the
olice have won court approval to hold five company officials for 72 hours as
they investigate an alleged scam
to steal documents from the oil
ministry to sell to consultants
and private companies.
The officials from Reliance Industries, Essar, Cairn India, Jubilant Energy and Reliance Power
were arrested on Friday along with
seven other people, Ravindra Yadav, additional commissioner of
Delhi police, said yesterday.
Those sent to police custody
are RIL corporate affairs manager Shailesh Saxena, Jubilant
Energy senior executive Subash
Chandra, Reliance ADAG deputy
general manager Rishi Anand,
Essar deputy general manager
Vinay and Cairns India general
manager K K Naik.
One of the arrested people
is former journalist Santanu
Saikia, who now runs websites
about the oil, power and fertiliser sectors.
Saikia said he was doing
an undercover investigation
into what he called a Rs100bn
($1.6bn) scam.
“It’s not right at all that I am
being fixed like this,” he told reporters while being taken to the
court by plainclothes policemen.
The incident has raised political
tensions, with leaders from both
the ruling and opposition parties
demanding no one guilty be let off
irrespective of their position.
“No guilty person will be
spared and they will receive the
strictest punishment possible,”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh
told reporters in New Delhi,
adding a possible nexus between
corporate lobbyists and government officials had “been going
on for a long time.”
India’s bureaucrats typically
conduct business from handheld
files and binders tied with strings
instead of computers, and accusations regularly surface that documents are copied and leaked ahead
of major sales or tenders.
Oil Minister Dharmendra
Pradhan told the Times Now TV
channel the main issue was that
documents were stolen from his
ministry in the middle of the
night, a practice that may have
been going on for years.
The espionage case in the
heart of the national capital assumed a wider dimension on
Friday after police complaint
said the papers stolen included
inputs for the forthcoming union
budget and a letter relating to the
prime minister’s office.
The documents also related to
the power and coal ministries,
police said.
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s administration installed
security cameras late last year to
stop people sneaking out of the
ministry with documents. The
arrests were the first since they
were introduced.
A government source has also
said that Modi has discussed the
idea of making cabinet meetings
Police said on Thursday they
received information that people
were trespassing in ministry offices at night using false identity
cards, temporary passes and duplicate keys for offices.
A Reliance Power spokesman
said the company was not aware
of the circumstances in which a
“junior” employee was allegedly
arrested, but that it would cooperate in the investigation.
Essar too said it would co-operate, but that it had not authorised any acts that break the law.
Reliance Industries said it had
learned of the arrest of one of its
employees through the media.
“We are ascertaining more details through an internal inquiry
to understand the role of this
personnel,” a spokesman said.
A Cairn India spokesman did
not respond to calls seeking
comment, while Jubilant energy
could not be reached.
Stop Pachauri from going abroad, demand lawyers
New Delhi
minent lawyer Indira
Jaisinh yesterday urged
the government not to
allow TERI (The Energy Research Institute) director general R K Pachauri accused of
sexual harassment to travel to
Nairobi to attend an interna-
tional climate conference.
Jaisinh demanded a “look out”
notice against the noted environmental expert, and expressed
apprehensions if he leaves the
country, he may not return to
face the law.
Jaisinh also demanded that
Pachauri be removed as chief of
TERI as he faced serious allegations of sexual harassment.
She said though he was still
under investigation, since he has
been accused of “gross crime of
sexual harassment it is a case of
moral imperative.”
Jaisinh also demanded that
Pachauri should not be allowed
to represent India on international forums. She accused
Pachauri of manipulating the
legal system and trying to muzzle the media by seeking a court
order to restrain media from
carrying reports on the allegations of sexual harassment
against him by a research analyst at TERI.
The lawyer asked whether
he had informed the Delhi High
Court that he was planning to
travel to Nairobi when it restrained police from arresting
“We are not arguing for his
custodial interrogation.... that
would depend on the level of cooperation in the investigation,”
she said.
Another activist lawyer Vrinda Grover said it was not the first
time that Pachauri was indulging in acts of sexual harassment.
Grover read out a letter written by a former research associate of TERI, now living abroad,
who too had made similar allegations in 2006.
Few takers for Indian languages
Despite the Indian economy’s
rapid growth and the increase
in US-India ties, American
students continue to display
low interest in Indian
languages, preferring instead
languages like Chinese, Korean
or Arabic, according to a new
language survey. “Indian
languages follow a path
less travelled,” wrote Alyssa
Ayres, senior fellow at the
Council on Foreign Relations,
citing survey by the Modern
Language Association (MLA).
“The big post-9/11 national
security interest that resulted
in many more Americans
studying Arabic did not
have the same impact on
Indian languages,” she noted.
For 2013, Indian language
enrolments dropped to 3,090
from the 3,924 of 2009. These
included Hindi (1,800), HindiUrdu (533), Urdu (349), Punjabi
(124), Tamil (82), Bengali
(64), Telugu (51), Malayalam
(44), Nepali (27), Gujarati (6)
Kannada (5) and Marathi (5).
Ayers contrasted it with the
scale of study that Japanese
(nearly 67,000), Chinese (over
61,000), and Korean (more
than 12,000) had in the US
during 2013.
Pollution cutting lifespan of
660mn people in India: study
New Delhi
ndian air pollution is cutting short
660mn lives by about three years, research published yesterday found.
About 54.5% of India’s 1.2bn people live
in areas where fine particles, a particularly
dangerous form of air pollution, are above
Indian standards for what is considered
safe, the study published in the Economic
& Political Weekly said.
If the air standards are met, it would increase the life expectancies for those people by 3.2 years on average, the study conducted by economists at the universities of
Chicago, Harvard and Yale said.
The experts noted their estimates might
be too conservative because they did not
account for the impact of other air pollutants or the impact of particulates on morbidity or labour productivity.
The researchers advised India to adopt
measures to reduce pollution that are
compatible with its continued economic
growth, which is vital for the country’s
“Today, too many Indians are exposed
to dangerous levels of air pollution that are
shortening lives and holding back the Indian economy,” their report said.
The authors recommended policy
changes that included restructuring environmental laws and regulations around
civil rather than criminal penalties. Penalties built on an outdated criminal system
were so severe that they are seldom used
and reserved for the worst polluters, they
They also recommended implementing
market-based environmental regulations
and improving accuracy and coverage of
pollution monitoring.
“A variety of effective policy solutions
are available that would efficiently reduce
this scourge,” they said.
The World Health Organisation last year
estimated that 13 of the world’s 20 most
polluted cities were in India, including New
Delhi, which was the worst-ranked city.
India also has the highest rate of deaths
caused by chronic respiratory diseases anywhere in the world.
“The extent of the problem is actually
much larger than what we normally understand,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Anant Sudarshan, the India director
of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago.
“We think of it as an urban problem, but
the rural dimension has been ignored.”
Added up, those lost years come to a
staggering 2.1bn for the entire nation, the
study says.
While “the conventional definition
of growth has ignored the health consequences of air pollution, this study demonstrates that air pollution retards growth
by causing people to die prematurely,”
Michael Greenstone of the University of
Chicago said in a statement.
Sarath Guttikunda of the independent
air quality research group Urban Emissions called the study a solid effort to
quantify some of the economic costs of
pollution, given “what information is
“Everything comes down to a lack of
monitoring data in India,” said Guttikunda, who was not involved in the study. “If
you don’t have enough monitoring information, you don’t know how much is
coming out in the first place.”
India developed extreme air pollution
while relying on burning fossil fuels to
grow its economy and pull hundreds of
millions of people up from poverty. More
than 300mn Indians still have no access to
electricity, with at least twice that number
living on less than $2 a day.
The present victim’s lawyer
Prashant Mendiratta sought media’s co-operation in exposing
the case, and expressed his fear
that the investigation may get
derailed given the stature and
clout of Pachauri.
He sought the presence of four
to five senior journalists when
the victim hands over to police
her mobile phone containing
SMS messages sent by Pachauri.
Meanwhile the women members of civil society has demanded that Pachauri should not be
allowed to travel abroad till investigations into the allegations
of sexual harassment are completed.
They have sought to know
why a lookout circular has not
been issued against him as was
done in the case of green activist
Priya Pillai.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Year of the sheep
line up to
buy dollars
Performers present a dragon dance during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Sao Paulo. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19 welcomed the Year of the Sheep.
Caracas mayor held
over coup still in jail
President Maduro is
continuing a crackdown on
the opposition
aracas mayor and opposition politician Antonio
Ledezma remained in
custody yesterday following his
arrest over what Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro alleges is a
coup plot financed by the United
The opposition politician, reelected as mayor in 2013, will be
held in Ramo Verde prison, the
same jail on the outskirts of the
capital currently housing another opposition leader, Leopoldo
Lopez, who was arrested a year
Lopez’s detention led to a wave
of protests against the socialist
president, although Ledezma’s
arrest has spurred only small,
spontaneous rallies following
government authorisation last
month for soldiers to use deadly
force on demonstrators.
Masked intelligence service
agents burst into Ledezma’s office late Thursday and hauled
him to jail, over the alleged coup
The United States dismissed
the claims as “baseless and false,”
and has condemned Ledezma’s
arrest, saying the “systematic intimidation” of opposition figures
appears to be a bid by the government to divert attention from the
country’s political and economic
As evidence of the supposed
coup, Maduro has cited a newspaper advertisement signed by
Ledezma, Lopez and government critic Maria Machado entitled “National agreement for the
The article details a number of
economic and political proposals.
Machado, an ousted lawmaker,
is herself under investigation
over an alleged plan to assassinate Maduro, though she remains free.
Maduro, who has frequently
made claims of coup plots, has
seen his popularity plummet to
20% amid a growing shortage of
basic goods, long lines outside
supermarkets and soaring inflation of almost 70% in the recession-hit country.
Prosecutors had “achieved
custody for the mayor of Caracas”, officials said in a statement.
Two-time presidential candidate and opposition leader Henrique Capriles, however, called
on the government to produce
evidence of the supposed conspiracy.
He added: “Does Maduro think
that putting everyone in prison is
going to get him 50 popularity
points or that he’s going to win
Ledezma, 59, was first elected
in 2009, but many of his powers
have been stripped by the central government over the years.
“Arresting opposition leaders can momentarily divert
attention from the economic
problems, but it will only get
worse,” said Luis Vicente Leon,
a leading Venezuelan political
The secretary general of the
MUD opposition coalition, Jesus Torrealba, said Ledezma’s
arrest amounted to a “coup
from the state”.
Maduro confirmed the mayor’s arrest two days after visiting Cuba’s retired leader Fidel
Castro, a staunch ally since
the days of late president Hugo
Kirchner condemns
judiciary over rally
Buenos Aires
rgentine President Cristina Fernandez accused the judiciary yesterday of launching a
political battle after state lawyers organised
a march to demand justice for a dead prosecutor
who had been investigating her.
The protest, known as 18F, drew tens of thousands into the streets of Buenos Aires on Wednesday, a month after state prosecutor Alberto Nisman
turned up dead in his apartment in mysterious circumstances.
Nisman had accused Fernandez of plotting to
cover up his inquiry into the 1994 bombing of a
Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.
Commenting on the rally for the first time, Fernandez said the march marked the politicisation of
the judiciary.
“18F, the baptism by fire for the Judicial Party,”
Fernandez wrote sarcastically in a statement shared
on Twitter and Facebook.
“The true political and institutional significance
of the march was the public and now undeniable
appearance of the Judicial Party,” Fernandez said.
The protest, one of the biggest Fernandez has
faced in her seven years in power, was summoned by
a group of state prosecutors and swiftly promoted
by opposition parties.
The prosecutors had previously said the rally was
to honour Nisman and was not politically motivated. The group has frequently locked horns with
Fernandez’s leftist government and complained of a
culture of intimidation and meddling in Argentina’s
“It’s really as strange as a march for better government would be if called for by cabinet ministers,” Fernandez said.
“18F was decidedly an opposition march, summoned by prosecutors and supported by judges and
the whole spectrum of political opposition,” she
Officials said in the days leading up to the march
that it was designed to destabilise the government.
Protesters said they were demanding an independent judiciary and an end to impunity for highranking officials.
Similar rallies were held on the same day in other
cities in Argentina as well as in Chile, the United
States and Israel.
Nisman’s death has sent shockwaves through Argentina ahead of October presidential elections and
plunged Fernandez’s final year into turmoil.
Nisman had accused Iran of being behind the
1994 bombing and alleged that Fernandez conspired with Tehran to whitewash his investigations
in return for economic favours.
Iran has repeatedly denied the accusation. Fernandez called it “absurd” and said rogue state security agents who held a grudge against her had misled
Nisman’s investigation and then killed him.
Cuba’s foreign ministry said
it rebuffs “the economic and
media war against the Bolivarian revolution and energetically
rejects the statements and meddling actions of the United States
and Organization of American
US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a
statement that “Venezuela’s
problems cannot be solved by
criminalising legitimate, democratic dissent”.
Meanwhile Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the
Organization of American States,
said Ledezma’s arrest “has
caused alarm” due to the way he
was detained.
He called on the government
to “stop those acts that lead to
a spiral of polarization that envelops Venezuelan society.”
At a protest Thursday night,
people banged pots, while on
Friday, fewer than 200 people attended a demonstration
called by Machado.
Protests in recent weeks have
been much smaller than last year
after the defence minister in late
January authorised the use of
deadly force to keep public order.
The mayor will fight charges
of plotting violence against the
socialist government, his lawyer
said on Saturday, denouncing the
accusations as baseless.
Ledezma’s lawyer Omar
Estacio says he believes in Venezuela’s justice system and he
planned to lodge a first appeal
as early as Monday or Tuesday.
“We’re going to appeal the
judge’s decision,” he said. “I feel
very confident that the Venezuelan justice will rectify this
because these charges are truly
The mayor’s arrest prompted
isolated protests in the capital
and fresh violence in the opposition stronghold of San Cristobal
in western Venezuela, witnesses
“This is when people need to
take to the street to defend democracy, without succumbing
to violence, which would only
benefit the government,” Luis
Pulido, a former member of Ledezma’s media team, said on Friday at a small rally in Caracas.
Many Maduro supporters
loathe Ledezma, whom they call
“The Vampire”, and say he is part
of an undemocratic, elitist clan
intent on recouping power in oilrich Venezuela.
enezuelans queued up
on Friday to purchase
US dollars in cash at exchange houses for the first time
in 12 years, though prospective
buyers complained the new
system was tedious and few
if any had yet to emerge with
greenbacks in hand.
President Nicolas Maduro
this month launched a freefloating currency mechanism,
meant to address chronic dollar shortages, that includes
purchases in small quantities
designed for savers of modest
A few dozen people queued
up inside an Italcambio exchange house in central Caracas on Friday in the hopes of
getting their hands on up to
$300 per day. Up to $200 in
cash can be purchased; the remaining $100 is only available
by transfer to a foreign bank
Clients said they had to register with Italcambio, wait for a
call confirming their registration, come back to apply for
the greenbacks, and then await
the central bank’s confirmation their request had been accepted.
“For $200 first you have to
leave your documents, then
they call you, then you pay...
When do we work?,” lamented
saleswoman Noemie Ura.
Though skeptical, Ura said
she was intent on giving the
system a shot to be able to
resume fabric imports from her
native Peru, which she halted
in October due to lack of hard
The queue in front of her
was slow-moving and fellow
customers complained the system kept collapsing. Security
guards outside limited entry to
the packed exchange house.
“We’re going crazy,” joked
one guard who said curious
passersby had been grilling
him about the new mechanism
all day.
The system has piqued the
interest of Venezuelans seeking a trip abroad or a hedge
against annual inflation exceeding 68%.
“It’s a good rate and it’s safer
than using the black market,”
said Webster Gomez, 42, who
trying his luck outside another
brokerage in affluent Eastern
The new platform, known
as Simadi, traded at 171 bolivars per dollar on Friday, close
to the black market’s rate of
around 188.8.
Still, the socialist government insists most foreign exchange will be sold at two preferential rates: 6.3 for essential
goods such as food staples, and
12 for other sectors.
Economists frequently point
to the complex currency controls as the root of Venezuela’s
spiraling economic crisis.
Lack of hard currency has
crimped imports, fuelling
shortages of everything from
toilet paper to medicines and
stoking the OPEC country’s
Cuban govt pledges
Internet access for all
nternet laggard Cuba once
again pledged online access
for all its people on Friday,
acknowledging the country
cannot develop without being
better connected.
Only a tiny fraction of Cubans have access to high-speed
Internet. Cuban officials have
been promising better Internet
service for years but have cited
the US economic embargo and
political aggression as reasons
for its stunted development.
The recent US rapprochement toward Cuba has added
pressure on the Communistled island to modernise.
“The will exists on the part
of the (ruling Communist) Party and the Cuban government
to develop the information society and put the Internet at the
service of everyone,” first vicepresident Miguel Diaz-Canel
said at the closure of a threeday technology conference.
Diaz-Canel, 54, is first in
the line of succession behind
83-year-old president Raul
Castro and has been advocating a more open Internet since
becoming vice-president two
years ago. His remarks on Friday were covered by official
Ordinary Cubans mostly
have access to state-controlled
Intranet at workplaces and
schools, or can pay for expensive Internet sessions by the
hour at offices of the state telecommunications monopoly
Etecsa. Cuban servers block
access to anti-Castro sites and
Nicaragua remembers hero
Nicaraguan soldiers fire a cannon during preparations to commemorate the 81st death anniversary of revolutionary leader
Augusto Cesar Sandino in Managua. The Sandinista National Liberation Front is also preparing to commemorate the anniversary of
Sandino’s death.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Pakistan, Sri Lanka to sign civil nuclear deal in March
ri Lanka will sign a civilian
nuclear co-operation deal
with Pakistan next month
as the new president Maithripala
Sirisena will visit Pakistan in the
last week of March.
The details would be worked
out in due process before the visit
takes place. Highly- placed diplomatic sources said yesterday
that Islamabad had received the
schedule proposed by Colombo
for the visit of their president to
Pakistan and President Sirisena
could be here on 31st of March.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
was among the first foreign dignitaries who made a phone call
to President Maithripala Sirisena on his historic victory in polls
last month.
The prime minister also invited the president to visit Pakistan
which was accepted. Since then
the two foreign offices are engaged in making arrangements
for the agreed visit.
The Sri Lankan president also
plans to proceed to China soon
after visiting Pakistan as he has
already visited New Delhi where
he signed an agreement with the
Indian government for civil nuclear co-operation.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka had to
sign a deal for nuclear co-operation with Pakistan for civilian
purposes under the umbrella
of International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) in the last quarter of the last year and for the
purpose the then Sri Lankan
president had planned to visit
Pakistan but unfortunately Islamabad was stranded by the
sit-in and the visit couldn’t take
Sri Lankan high commissioner
for Pakistan Air Chief Marshal
Jayalath Weerakkody, who was
commander of Sri Lankan airforce before assuming the diplomatic assignment in Pakistan,
had confirmed the plan to visit
Pakistan by his former president
but that couldn’t materialised.
He has also hinted at signing
a deal with Pakistan for civilian
nuclear co-operation. Diplomatic sources say Sri Lanka is
maintaining balance in its ties
with important countries of the
region as the president would
be visiting important regional
capitals one after other during
the year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi is also visiting Sri Lanka next
month, but no schedule has yet
been confirmed by the either sides.
Sri Lanka is keen to initiate its
US signals likely delay in
Afghan troop pullout
US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter listens to remarks by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a joint news conference at the Presidential
Palace in Kabul yesterday.
government and insurgent
It also comes as Obama faces a
decision about the timetable for
a troop drawdown in Afghanistan. Under the current plan, the
10,000-strong US force is due to
drop to roughly 5,000 by the end
of 2015 and then pull out altogether by the time Obama leaves
office in two years.
But the Obama administration
already has delayed the pace of
the withdrawal, allowing 1,000
additional American forces to
remain this year.
And the US commander on the
ground, General John Campbell,
has suggested he favours slowing
the drawdown further, though
the details of the possible options before Obama remain unclear.
Afghan leaders and some lawmakers have urged Obama to reconsider the withdrawal timetable, warning that an early US exit
could jeopardise security and
international aid.
Carter said as part of the review of the pullout plan, Washington was also was “rethinking
the details of the counter-terrorism mission” that currently
targets Al Qaeda militants with
raids by US and Afghan special
forces and drone strikes.
He said the single most important factor that had prompted the review of the troop
withdrawal timetable was the
formation of a unity government
last year led by Ghani, which he
said had introduced “certainty”
and “predictability”.
couldn’t have counted on a few
months ago,” he said, calling it
“major change”.
On the first day of a two-day
visit, Carter held talks with
the US commander in Kabul,
Campbell, as well as General
Lloyd Austin, head of US Cen-
tral Command which oversees
American forces in the Middle
East and Central Asia.
His trip coincides with a concerted effort by Ghani to promote peace talks between Kabul
and the Taliban, with Pakistan
voicing strong support for the
Ghani declined to confirm
whether Taliban leaders were
now ready to enter into direct
negotiations with his government, but he said the conditions
were ripe for a potential breakthrough.
“The grounds for peace have
never been better in the last 36
years,” Ghani said.
He said he was “hopeful” and
“the direction is positive”. But he
added: “We cannot make premature announcements.”
The United States and a Taliban spokesman this week denied there were new plans to
hold peace talks in Qatar, de-
spite claims by some militant
Asked about the presence of
the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, Carter played down
the threat, saying some Taliban
insurgents were making an attempt at “rebranding” themselves.
“The reports I’ve seen still
have them in small numbers and
aspirational,” he said.
The United States first
launched military action in Afghanistan after the September
11, 2001 attacks, toppling the
Taliban regime that had refused
to break ties with Al Qaeda.
A US-led Nato force eventually swelled to 130,000 troops, but
last year the mission wrapped up
its combat operations against
Taliban insurgents.
A contingent of 12,500 foreign
troops has remained to back up
Afghanistan’s 350,000 soldiers
and police.
Lanka and Pakistan are two
countries of the region who took
lead in signing free trade agreement (FTA) and since then their
trade is increasing.
The Sri Lankan president will
be accorded a befitting reception
on his arrival in Pakistan accompanied by a high level delegation.
He will be meeting President
Mamnoon Hussain and Chief of
the Army Staff (COAS) General
Raheel Sharif separately while he
will be having formal talks with
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Afghan leader
salutes Pakistan
peace efforts
Washington is reviewing a
plan to withdraw US troops
from Afghanistan by 2016 to
ensure that “progress sticks”
after more than a decade of
resident Barack Obama’s
new Pentagon chief said
States was seriously considering
slowing the pace of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as the
country faces a growing Taliban
US Defence Secretary Ashton
Carter’s comments in Kabul offered the clearest sign yet that
Washington was ready to delay
the closure of some bases and
retain more troops after appeals
by Afghanistan’s new President
Ashraf Ghani and advice from
To safeguard “hard-won”
progress, Obama “is considering a number of options to reinforce our support for President
Ghani’s security strategy, including possible changes to the
timeline for our drawdown of US
troops,” Carter said after talks
with Afghan leaders.
“That could mean taking another look at the timing and
sequencing of base closures to
ensure we have the right array
of coalition capabilities,” he said
at a joint news conference with
Apart from troop numbers,
the United States and its allies
would need to make “long-term
commitments in resources,
equipment and other support”
to ensure the success of the Afghan forces, he said.
Carter’s visit comes amid a
sharp rise in Afghan casualties
from the 13-year conflict, with
the UN recording a 22 percent
increase in the number of civilians killed and injured in
2014 due to an intensification
in ground fighting between
nuclear programme and it is eyeing the Chinese reactors for the
purpose. Interestingly, India and
Sri Lanka have seen an uneasy
relationship in recent few years
due to Indians’ clandestine interference in the domestic affairs
of Sri Lanka.
New Delhi has been agitating
the question of human rights violations in the wake of Sri Lanka
battle against terrorists and insurgents who had support from
Sources reminded that Sri
fghan President Ashraf
Ghani yesterday saluted neighbouring Pakistan’s cooperation as Kabul
seeks to lay the groundwork
for peace with Taliban insurgents, the latest sign of improving ties between the two
Pakistan’s recent efforts in paving the ground for peace and
reconciliation”, Ghani said in
a statement. “We welcome the
recent position Pakistan has
taken in pronouncing Afghanistan’s enemy as Pakistan’s.”
He cited two major recent
attacks as helping to bring the
countries closer together —
one in Yahya Khel in Afghanistan in November that left
nearly 50 people dead, and a
Taliban massacre at a school in
the Pakistan city of Peshawar
in December that killed 153,
mostly children.
Ghani’s statement came
after a top Pakistani minister
said on Thursday that relations between the two coun-
tries had never been better.
“I think Afghanistan and Pakistan, working in close hands
and in close cooperation, it will
do wonders for the cooperation
in the field of counterterrorism,” Pakistani Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said as he
met with top US diplomat John
Kerry in Washington.
“Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have
never been better, and that is
a very, very positive development.”
Last year’s election of
Ghani, who pledged to make
peace talks a priority, as well
as supportive signals from
Pakistan, which has long held
significant influence with the
Taliban, has however boosted
hopes for possible dialogue.
“Ghani has done good
work to promote a dialogue
for peace,” one Taliban commander said. Another said his
recent talks with tribal chiefs
had led to progress.
Ghani, however, said in his
statement that “there are obviously elements opposing
the peace process by spreading false information to cause
public confusion and anxiety”.
Afghan bank robbed by its own employees
Staff at a branch of
Afghanistan’s central bank in
southern Kandahar province
may have got away with
as much as 81mn Afghanis
($1.4mn) when they robbed
their own bank and ran, an
official said yesterday.
Security cameras showed
the bank’s vault had been
cleaned out.
“Yesterday we could only
open one of the treasury’s
doors. We hope to open
the next one today,” the
central bank director for
Afghanistan’s southwestern
region, Fazel Ahmad Azimi,
The Kandahar raid is believed
to have been carried out by
a senior official at the bank,
an employee of nine years,
with the help of his son and
brother-in-law who were also
on staff, according to Azimi.
The robbery at the branch
in Spin Boldak near the
border with Pakistan was
discovered on Thursday
and investigators believed
the group has escaped to
Pakistan. The group had
removed CCTV recordings
before fleeing to Pakistan,
Azimi said, but investigators
were hopeful that footage
might be recovered from the
memory chip of the security
Royal wedding held for Pakistani boy, Indian girl
he two countries do not
see eye to eye, but an
Indian girl and a Pakistani boy did more than that
at a wedding in Jaipur, India,
yesterday. Kunwar Karni Singh
Sodha of Amarkot district of
Sindh in Pakistan tied the knot
with Padmini Rathore of Kanota royal family of Jaipur district
of Rajasthan.
A large number of guests, including over 100 from Pakistan,
blessed Kunwar Karni Singh
Sodha and Padmini Rathore as
the couple exchanged wedding
vows at a heritage hotel.
The guests who attended
the royal wedding were given a
grand welcome which included a
performance by folk artists. The
guests were treated to Mughlai
and Rajasthani cuisines.
The marriage procession
comprising decorated elephants
and horses started from Trimurti
circle before reaching Narain Niwas Palace.
“I accepted the proposal as
soon as it came. For me boundaries between the two countries do not matter much,” Man
Singh, father of the bride, told
IANS yesterday.
“Over 3,000 guests attended
the wedding,” said Singh.
“It was a royal wedding in the
real sense. The food was lavish
and the arrangements were perfect. The erstwhile royals were
dressed in their traditional attire,” said a guest, RK Singh.
The groom was dressed in a
white sherwani while Padmini
wore a Rajput dress and was
adorned with traditional jewellery.
One of the three elephants
that were part of the wedding
procession was decked up in silver and gold ornaments.
“The jewellery we used on
the elephant was over 250 years
old and was brought from Kanota Library and Museum Trust.
Initially all elephant owners
in Jaipur said no to us as they
thought the jewellery was very
heavy, but finally an elephant
owner agreed,” said Singh.
Weddings have taken place
between families in India and
Pakistan before as well, but what
made this wedding special was
that 31 people had gone to Pakistan from Jaipur for the engagement ceremony where even the
‘tika’ ceremony took place which
is seen as a rare occasion in Pakistan.
The family of the groom has an
impressive legacy.
The family had given refuge to
Akbar’s father, Humayun, and
his wife in Amarkot (now Umerkot in Pakistan’s Sindh province)
as he fled to the desert region after being defeated by Sher Shah
Suri in 1540.
The bride, Padmini Singh
Rathore, belongs to Kanota royal
Around 15,000 guests had attended the ‘tika’ ceremony in
Despite how the society looks
at India-Pakistan relationship,
the bride says she is stepping
into the new phase with an open
The bride’s father Man Singh
Kanota said it was an arranged
The groom’s father Rana
Hamir Singh said that both the
families were happy with the
new relationship. The groom’s
family is expected to stay in
Jaipur till Holi.
Sources said around 125 of the
300 guests from the groom’s
side had come from Pakistan.
The bride will stay in India
until she gets a visa to go to Pakistan. The groom and his close
family members will stay here till
the bride gets her visa.
Kunwar Karni Singh Sodha of Amarkot district at Sindh in Pakistan with Padmini Rathore of Kanota royal family during the wedding ceremony
at Narain Niwas in Jaipur yesterday.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
clamour for
gets support
By Manny Pinol
Manila Times
he tough talk and invectives spewed by the
colourful and controversial Davao City Mayor Rody
Duterte may have shocked the
gentle Cordillerans but his
spirited advocacy for federalism and his renowned decisiveness impressed the leaders
of Baguio City and Benguet.
“He is decisive and wants
change,” said Baguio City
Mayor Mauricio Domogan in
an interview with TV5 following a forum on federalism
attended by business, civic
and several political leaders
of the city at the Crown Legacy Hotel here.
However, Duterte said
he is not seeking the country’s highest post.“For the
nth time, I am not interested in running for president. It (presidency) is not a
merchandise,” he said at the
33rd founding anniversary of
“Autonomy is the key to
economic progress of our
region; it is the future
of the Cordillera”
The Davao mayor said he
had been going around the
country not to seek support
for his supposed candidacy
but to drum up support for
federalism which he sees as
the solution to the country’s
Domogan, the undefeated
Igorot Mayor of Baguio who
also served as congressman
for nine years, also expressed
support for the advocacy of
the Davao City mayor for a
shift from a Presidential Unitary System to Federal Parliamentary which would result
in the establishment of at
least 14 Federal States all over
the country.The Baguio City
mayor has also long advocated for a greater autonomy
for the Cordillera which is
provided in the 1987 Constitution but has not been realised, after the move lost in
two plebiscites conducted in
the Mountain Region.
Domogan and the other
leaders of the Cordillera are
pushing for the passage of a
fourth Draft Bill, to pass an
enabling law to implement
autonomy in the region.
“Autonomy is the key to
economic progress of our
region; it is the future of the
Cordillera,” Domogan told
members of the Philippine
Councillors League-Cordillera during a three-day conference on self-rule last year.
Domogan and his group
were actually closely watching the proposed Bangsamoro
Basic Law, a move to create an
expanded and unique autonomous government in Mindanao, as a model for the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
The BBL now faces the
grim prospect of being
thrashed by both Congress
and the Senate following the
Mamasapano, Maguindanao
carnage where 44 Special Action Force police commandos
and reportedly 18 members
of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were killed
in a day-long battle resulting
from the operation to capture
Malaysian international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias
Benguet Governor Nestor
Fongwan, who earlier met
with Mayor Duterte at the
Baguio Country Club, also
expressed strong support
for federalism saying that
his province has not earned
its rightful share from the
exploitation of its natural
undefeated Igorot leader who
was mayor of La Trinidad,
Benguet, cited the mining
operations in his province
which has been going on for
over 100 years and the hydropower facilities like the Binga
and Ambuklao and the use of
its water for the San Roque
Hydro Power Dam in Pangasinan.
“We only get a pittance of
what we are supposed to get.
In fact, the mining companies extracting our minerals
pay the bigger part of their
taxes in Makati, where their
head offices are located,”
Fongwan said.
Duterte started his “Listening Tour” in Baguio City
on Feb 19 with the Forum on
Federalism with businessmen
and local officials followed
by a meeting with Rotarians
in the Cordillera and Central
Duterte also met with representatives of the different
sectors at the Baguio Convention Centre and later joined
at least groups of graduates of
the Philippine Military Academy in their reunion also at
the Crown Legacy Hotel.The
two-day “Listening Tour” in
Baguio gave the people of the
city an insight into the federalism advocacy of Duterte.
“I like his candidness,” said
one Rotarian who admitted that
he and the others were initially
shocked by the colourful and
sometimes vulgar words which
pepper Duterte’s speeches.
Tomorrow, Duterte’s “Listening Tour” will bring him to
Angeles City, Pampanga for a
meeting with the faculty and
students of the Angeles University and a forum with businessmen and investors in the Clark
and Subic areas.
Sound and light show
Fireworks from The Netherlands light up the sky as spectators watch during the sixth World Pyrotechnics Olympics in Manila yesterday.
Presidential office downplays
resignation calls by new group
By Joel M Sy Egco
Manila Times
alacanang has belittled
the 2/22 Coalition that
is calling for the ouster
of President Benigno Aquino,
saying the group lacks the support of both the public and the
Armed Forces.
At a news briefing, deputy
spokesman Abigail Valte said
criticisms emanating from the
newly formed coalition “are not
new,” and that the president has
heard them before.
“The groups that have been
making statements (critical of
Aquino), their positions are
not new. Some of them (made)
similar calls years ago, and as I
mentioned earlier, nothing happened,” Valte told reporters.
“Perhaps, at this juncture,
only the people can tell if they
will back these groups. There
is no indication, at least at this
point, that they are being supported by the majority,” she said.
At the same time, Valte belied
news reports about a supposed
exit plan being prepared for the
president to vacate the seat of
She said this scenario is pure
“The president will step down
on June 30, 2016. I can tell you
that. Any report or stories of any
Members of a group called 2/22 Coalition, which seeks the ouster of President Benigno Aquino, hold a giant
Philippine flag.
other exit plan apart from that
are fictitious,” Valte said.
Reports about a supposed exit
plan for the president flew thick
as rumours of a putsch continue
to swirl amid preparations for
massive protest rallies to pressure Aquino to relinquish his
A source said on Thursday
that a Palace insider showed a
draft copy of an alleged exit plan
to leaders of groups calling for
Aquino’s resignation.
“In the midst of our conversation, she showed us the documents supposedly containing
the exit plan,” the source said.
“She showed us the copy of the
alleged draft exit plan. We played
this down since we did not know
her intentions in showing us the
document,” the source added.
The plan was hatched, according to the source, because
the Palace is already feeling the
heat.But Valte denied this, explaining that they have no intention to abandon their duty, especially the president.
“The administration and the
president (are) no stranger to
issues, the national issues that
confront us, and we hope that
in due time questions will be
answered as well. We hope to
move on and to properly find
a resolution to all of these (issues),” she said.
And until the majority of the
people throw their support behind such quit calls, Valte added, “We’ll deal with it when it
comes, but so far, the president
continues to do his work.”
Even the military and police
organisations, she said, have
made their positions against
to grab power, and as such, no
coup will prosper.
The Palace official also
downplayed anti-government
sentiments at present as only
part of the democratic space.
“So they are free to make
statements, to issue calls
for whatever action. Obviously, we disagree with their
statements and their calls
to action, but it’s part of the
democratic free space that we
have,” she noted.
Valte said they strongly
doubt if the renewed calls for
the president’s ouster could
muster support and succeed.
“The president is no
stranger to calls for resignation. In the course of more or
less five years that he has been
in office, we have seen these
sporadic calls from different
groups, and they always have
not resulted in a situation
that would please them, or,
at least, it has not been, it has
not resulted favourably for
Palace slams reports on ‘buying back’ SAF arms
By Llanesca Panti
Manila Times
President Benigno Aquino chats with relatives of some of the policemen killed in Mamasapano.
alacanang has condemned reports that
the government paid
the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) to return the
weapons stolen from slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano last
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte slammed
Father Eliseo Mercado for peddling “baseless accounts.”
“The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process is very disappointed at
the allegations that have been
made by Father Eliseo Mercado
that the government purchased
the weapons to make it appear
that the MILF was returning it
to government. We do not have
any information on the basis
of Father Mercado for saying
those statements,” Valte said
over Radyo ng Bayan.
“Let’s not muddle the issue.
The fact is (the) weapons were
returned…as a manifestation
of their continued interest to be
our partners in the peace process. In a climate like this, let’s
be very careful about the information that we believe,” Valte
The Palace said government
is also bent on getting back the
firearms stolen by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) rebels, who joined
the MILF in fighting the SAF
commandos in Mamasapano.
“When it comes to the call of
the BIFF…if they don’t want to
return the stolen weapons, we
can look for other ways,” Valte
OPAPP executive director
Luisito Montalbo said there is
no truth to the reports that the
government bought back the
SAF weapons.
“We don’t know where that
is coming from. Certainly,
there is no truth to that,” Montalbo said. “We find it very disappointing that Fr Jun, whom
we’ve known for a long time
and who used to directly engage
our office as a peace advocate,
would come out publicly with
claims that are unsubstantiated
and unverified.”
He branded the allegation as
“wrong and also unfair to our
ground forces, the ceasefire
committees and international
monitors who personally documented, facilitated and officially witnessed the retrieval of the
weapons from the MILF.”
Nevertheless, Montalbo said
his office’s legal unit has started
looking into the allegations.
“We cannot allow such untruths and violations of our
rights to go unchallenged. It is
not just the name of the agency
that is at stake, but hundreds
of its employees who have no
way to protect themselves from
being maligned in this way,” he
At least 16 high-powered
firearms were presented to the
government on February 18 by
MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal in Awang, Datu
Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
Ferrer ‘positive’ on
Bangsamoro law
Government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer still
“sees positive signs” for Congress
to pass the Bangsamoro Basic
Law (BBL), amid a public outcry
following the killing of 44 police
commandos by joint forces of
Muslim rebels in Mamasapano,
Maguindanao, Manila Times
reported. “BBL is not down and
still kicking,” Ferrer said in a press
briefing on Friday night. She said
the government will continue to
pursue a peaceful and lasting
solution to the decades-old
armed conflict in Mindanao. Ferrer admitted that the timetable
for Congress to pass the BBL by
next month will not happen but
she expressed hope the legislative body will act on it before it
adjourns. Lawmakers withdrew
their support to the BBL after
the Mamasapano incident that
sparked public outrage across
the country.
Congress has started investigating the incident.“We will await the
result of the investigation,” Ferrer
said. With regard to building up
the case against those involved in
the attack, Ferrer said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is in charge
of gathering the evidence.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Indian leader
assures Hasina
on Teesta deal
est Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had blocked
the Teesta water sharing deal
between India and Bangladesh
four years ago, reassured Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina yesterday of a breakthrough on the issue.
The visiting chief minister
raised the Teesta issue during her
luncheon meeting with Hasina
at the latter’s official residence
Ganabhaban during the day, said
the prime minister’s spokesperson Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury,
according to a bdnews24.com
“Mamata Banerjee has assured our prime minister to
work out a solution that protects
the interests of both West Bengal
and Bangladesh,” Chowdhury
Banerjee termed the parleys
as a “meeting of hearts”. Sources
close to her said the two leaders
discussed bilateral issues.
The chief minister thanked
the people and administration of
Bangladesh for the warm hospitality and reception.
The Teesta water sharing pact
had been put on hold after Banerjee’s strong opposition over
fears that the treaty could spell
disaster for the northern part of
her state.
In September 2011, Banerjee had embarrassed then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh by pulling out of his
delegation to Bangladesh over
the water sharing agreement,
forcing India to drop it from the
Though a solution to this
vexed issue depends on the
central governments of the two
countries, the role of the chief
minister of a border state like
West Bengal is believed to be
Banerjee has said that the
relations of the two Bengals
(Bangladesh and West Bengal)
are as “deep and durable” as
the perennial rivers Ganga and
She also told Hasina that the
bill for implementing the land
boundary agreement between
the two countries was likely
to be through in the next session of the upper house of the
Indian parliament starting in
Banerjee had stoutly opposed
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee greets Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Central Shaheed Minar in honour of the
1952 Language Movement martyrs in Dhaka yesterday.
both the deals since 2011 arguing
that they went against the interests of West Bengal. However,
with changing political realities
in India, her stance on both these
issues has changed considerably.
On the land boundary agreement, she had emphasised on a
rehabilitation package for the enclave dwellers and noted that she
was very positive about the issue
being settled this time around.
Once the land boundary agree-
ment (LBA) is passed, India will
cede 111 enclaves totally measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh
and receive 51 enclaves covering
7,110 acres. More than 51,000
people reside in these enclaves.
Later, Banerjee attended a
conference organised by the entrepreneurs of Bangladesh and
West Bengal. The participants
discussed ways to improve trade
relations between the two neighbouring countries, especially
between Bangladesh and West
Banerjee and her delegation
were scheduled to leave Dhaka
last night.
The chief minister attended
the main function at Dhaka’s
Shaheed Minar on the occasion
of Mother Language Day Saturday, which commemorates
the martyrdom of Bangladeshi
youths during the Language
Movement in 1952.
She paid homage to the
“It is one of the most memorable moments in my life to be
present at Shahid Minar, I am
overwhelmed and deeply touched
with emotions to experience this
historic moment,” she said.
Banerjee said it was her longtime wish to come to Bangladesh
and pay tribute to the martyrs of
the language movement. “This is
a matter of pride for me.”
PM’s son calls Zia ‘national disgrace’
By Mizan Rahman
The World’s End cliff is a key tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.
survives fall from
World’s End
ri Lankan troops rescued
a Dutch honeymooner
who became the first
person to survive a fall from
the World’s End, a 4,000ft
(1,200m) cliff that is one of
the country’s main tourist attractions, the military said
The 35-year-old man had
taken a few steps back to take
pictures of his new bride when
he flew off the unprotected
cliff, army spokesman Brigadier
Jayanath Jayaweera said.
“He was extremely lucky
because he fell on top of a tree
about 130ft from the top,”
Jayaweera said. “He is the first
person to survive a fall from
World’s End.”
Troops used ropes to reach
the man and winch him to
safety. Some 40 soldiers were
involved in the initial rescue
which was later backed by a
military helicopter.
The man had to be evacuated from the area, however,
on the shoulders of troops who
carried him over a distance of
5km (3 miles) to the nearest
point at which he could be
driven to hospital.
“His condition is stable and
he is out of danger,” a police
official said.
The World’s End cliff is the
main attraction at the Horton Plains nature reserve in
central Sri Lanka and is a key
tourist attraction.
angladesh Prime Minister’s son Sajeeb Wazed
Joy yesterday called BNP
chairperson and former PM Khaleda Zia, ‘a national disgrace’
for refusing to pay respect to
language martyrs at the Central
Shaheed Minar in Dhaka.
Zia’s eldest son Tarique Rahman, now living in London, was
once a very close friend of Joy.
Joy’s Facebook post yesterday
ri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will leave for
Geneva next month to attend
a high-level meeting of the UN
Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during which he will also
have talks with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
the foreign ministry said in a
More than 65 foreign ministers from around the world will
participate in the “High-Level
Segment” which is expected to
be held March 2, Xinhua news
agency reported citing the
Sri Lanka recently won a sixmonth extension on the submission of a report on alleged
war crimes to the UNHRC,
after UN Human Rights chief
Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein
praised the government’s willingness to open the country up
to scrutiny.
In a letter to the president
of the UNHRC, which set up
the investigation in March last
year, Zeid recommended delaying publication next month
until the council’s 30th session
due in September.
In his request to the council, Zeid appended a letter
from Samaraweera, which
set out reforms that the new
government planned to implement within 100 days, in-
one who orders women and children to be burned alive? Khaleda
Zia is not a national leader. She is
a national disgrace.”
Paying tribute to the language
martyrs, Joy wrote, “On this day,
February 21st, I remember the
martyrs of our Language Movement. They gave their lives so we
could speak our language, Bengali.
“This was the beginning of
our eventual movement for independence. My greetings to all
Bengalis on this day.”
Zia skipped paying homage
to the language martyrs at the
Central Shaheed Minar this year
for the first time since joining
politics at the start of 1980s.
The BNP claimed her decision
was based on security issues and
the ongoing blockade.
A number of senior party
leaders said on Friday that Zia
would not be visiting the Central Shaheed Minar due to the
ongoing blockade.
Zia, however, organised a
prayer meeting at her Gulshan
office and paid respects to the
language martyrs.
“A Dua Mahfil was held at the
1971 war crimes convict to
challenge death sentence
angladesh’s Jamaat-eIslami leader Mohammad
will file a petition against an
apex court verdict upholding
the death sentence awarded
to him by the International
Crimes Tribunal (ICT) for
his atrocities during the 1971
Liberation War.
“A review petition has to
be filed within 15 days from
Lanka minister to brief
UNHRC on war probe
said: “I cannot but note with
shame that the leader of the
‘other’ political party in Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, has refused to
pay her respects to the memory
of our martyrs at Shaheed Minar.
“I am still astonished by those
who support her and her party.
How can you support someone
who does not even respect the
martyrs of our language movement and indeed our Independence? How can you support
someone who partners with
Jamaat and their war criminals?”
“How can you support some-
cluding ensuring justice for
war crimes.
After receiving the extension, the Sri Lankan government said it was ready to accept
the challenge of addressing
the country’s human rights
concerns by September and
assured a credible domestic
probe would be launched into
the war allegations.
Deputy Foreign Minister
Ajith Perera said earlier on
Friday that the council’s decision to grant an extension was
the biggest diplomatic victory achieved by the new government and assured that Sri
Lanka would do everything
possible to conduct a thorough
probe into the final stages of
the war.
the publication of a full verdict. We’ll file the petition
before the deadline ends,”
Tazul Islam said yesterday, according to a report in
“One of the judges found
him (Kamaruzzaman) innocent,” Tazul said, adding that
Kamaruzzaman had asked his
lawyers to file the review petition based on the judge’s
Kamaruzzaman to death on
Mohammad Kamaruzzaman
May 9, 2013, and the Supreme
Court of Bangladesh upheld the
verdict On November 3, 2014.
The ICT is a specially con-
stituted court set up to prosecute those who committed
war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of
On Thursday, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 issued
a death warrant for Kamaruzzaman after receiving the full text
of the Supreme Court verdict
that upheld his death penalty
for his crimes against humanity
during 1971.
On the same day, the prison
authorities read out the death
warrant to Kamaruzzaman.
Youngest director
Nepalese eight-year-old child Saugat Bista shows the certificate of Guinness World Records for
World’s Youngest Director in Kathmandu yesterday. Bista had broken the record of Indian child
Kishan Shrikanth who directed a feature film at the age of nine by directing a movie Love you
Baba at an age of 7 years 340 days.
Gulshan office after Asr prayers
to pray for the souls of the language martyrs. The BNP chairperson was present there,” Zia’s
press secretary Maruf Kamal
Khan told newsmen.
Zia had been visiting the
Shaheed Minar to pay respects to
the language martyrs every year
when she was the prime minister
or the leader of the opposition.
She placed wreath on the base
of the Shaheed Minar on February 21 last year, too. She has not
left the office even after removal
of the barricade.
India PM to visit
Lanka in March
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will
travel to Sri Lanka next month,
the first bilateral visit to the
country by an Indian premier in
over 25 years, and is likely to go
to Tamil-dominated Jaffna amid
signs of growing amity between
the two neighbours.
“Prime Minister Modi will arrive
on March 13 on a three-day visit,”
Cabinet spokesman and Minister
Rajitha Senaratne said. During his
Lanka visit, Modi is likely to go to
war-ravaged Jaffna in the Tamildominated Northern Province
and Trincomalee in the Eastern
Province, sources said. If Modi
visits Jaffna, he would be the first
Indian Prime Minister to do so.
The visit comes within a month
of new Sri Lankan President
Maithripala Sirisena’s India
trip this week that saw the two
countries sign a civil nuclear pact.
This was Sirisena’s first foreign
visit after assuming charge
following a bitter presidential
poll in which he defeated former
president Mahinda Rajapakse,
ending his 10-year rule.
WASTE: The Indo-Lanka civil
nuclear agreement would
not permit India to dump its
radioactive waste in Sri Lankan
territory, a senior minister has
“Management of radioactive
waste does not authorise India
to unload radioactive waste
produced in Indian Nuclear Power
Plants in Sri Lankan territory,”
Minister of Power and Energy
Champika Ranawaka said.
The minister was commenting on
the bilateral agreement signed
on February 16 in New Delhi on
cooperation in the peaceful uses
of nuclear energy.
He said the agreement focused
on peaceful uses of nuclear
energy in line with multilateral
conventions entered by both
India and Sri Lanka.
The agreement will facilitate
cooperation in the transfer
and exchange of knowledge,
expertise, sharing of resources,
capacity-building and training
of personnel in peaceful uses of
nuclear energy.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery)
Fax 44350474
Qatar committed
to developing
sport infrastructure
The government’s announcement that it will complete all
world cup-related projects in time shows its commitment to
stage the best sporting spectacle on earth in 2022.
HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh
Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani said Qatar would
be spending a phenomenal QR45bn on basic and sportrelated infrastructure over the next seven years to facilitate
the conduct of the most successful World Cup ever.
The government has made it abundantly clear that
crude price fluctuations will not force Qatar to review its
committed mega projects, some of which are part of the
broader Qatar National Vision 2030.
Also, the government has committed to spend 15% of the
GDP each year over the next five years as part of National
Development Strategy (NDS), largely funded through the
“The 2022-linked projects are stimulants for the Qatari
economy and that’s why the World Cup fixture is so
important for us,” said Sheikh Ahmed at a recent event in
To meet housing shortage, the government plans many
projects that will ensure adequate residential stocks in the
country. Housing facilities will be provided for an estimated
half a million people in Lusail City, north of Doha, alone.
Qatar is already
getting transformed into
a manufacturing and
services hub in line with
its strategy to diversify
the economy away from
oil and gas, achieve
sustainable growth and
create jobs.
The non-hydrocarbon
sector in Qatar continues
to drive economic growth,
pushing its share of GDP to more than 50% for the first time
in 2014.
Major infrastructure projects, notably the new metro
in Doha, major real estate projects such as Musheireb in
the centre of old Doha and Lusail, as well as new roads,
highways and the further expansion of the new Hamad
International Airport, resulted in a 18.5% year-on-year
expansion in construction activity – the fastest growing
sector in 2014.
The strong growth momentum achieved last year
continues to be in line with the country’s overall
development plan outlined in the Qatar National Vision
2030 and the National Development Strategy 2011-16.
By investing heavily in major non-hydrocarbon projects,
the authorities are attracting a new wave of expatriate
workers to Qatar.
Indeed, population continued its near double-digit
growth in 2014, driven by the large ramp up in infrastructure
Data released by the Ministry of Development Planning
and Statistics show Qatar’s population stood at 2.22mn in
January 2015.
Accordingly, small and medium-sized enterprises, such
as hotels, education, medical services, retail and restaurants
are expected to flourish in order to cater to the growth of
the population. As such, this increased level of population
growth should boost aggregate domestic consumption and
add to non-hydrocarbon GDP growth going forward.
Besides its commitment to developing the basic and
sport-related infrastructure, Qatar has abundant resources
to steer its ambitious development plans.
The country has accumulated considerable foreign assets
over the past decade as a result of its development of natural
resources, with the result that the government’s general net
asset position will remain strong, averaging about 100% of
GDP, over a three-year period up to 2018.
The nonhydrocarbon
sector in Qatar
continues to
drive economic
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A security guard stands watching as a man pushes dress hangers outside Dolby Theatre as preparations are underway for the 87th annual Academy Awards in
Hollywood, California. The 87th Oscars takes place at Dolby Theatre today.
Oscar race defines state
of the US film industry
Though we generally think of
Hollywood as the source of
middle-brow entertainment,
it doesn’t necessarily want to
think of itself that way - or
have you think of it that
way, either
By Neal Gabler
ccording to Hollywood
cognoscenti, this year’s
Best Picture Oscar today
may come down to Birdman
or Boyhood, which couldn’t be more
appropriate. Not in a long time has
an Oscar race - and two pictures so clearly defined the state of the
American film industry and the
tensions that rend it when it gets
outside its commercial comfort zone.
Think of the contest as head versus
heart, or as art versus artlessness.
Critic Richard Schickel once said
Hollywood made movies for two
reasons: to appease teenagers who
fill the industry’s coffers, and to win
prizes, which fills the industry’s ego.
Only on the rarest of occasions does a
film do both.
What Schickel didn’t say is that
not all prizewinners are created equal
and that you can reward different
impulses. It matters what film the
industry rewards because the choice
is a reflection on both the academy
and the filmmaker. The Oscar may
be Hollywood’s best opportunity to
project its best image to the world. You
don’t want to blow it.
That’s where the divisions arise.
Though we generally think of
Hollywood as the source of middlebrow entertainment, it doesn’t
necessarily want to think of itself that
way - or have you think of it that way,
either. At least not at Oscar time. In
fact, there is a growing contingent
of folks in Hollywood who seem to
pride themselves on being brainy.
They want to make films that have
something profound to say about the
human condition, that are grown up
A man is framed by an Oscar cutout on the red carpet during preparations ahead
of the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California.
- that provoke the mind, not just the
In the good old days, this meant
movies about social issues. Make
a film about race relations or the
Holocaust, and you were almost
sure to get yourself a nomination,
if not the big prize itself. But there
was a kind of simplicity in that Selma may have suffered for it - and
Hollywood is moving past this. Today,
the intellectual contingent thinks of
movies as high-art, and views high art
as being complex and demanding, not
just or even socially engaged.
Think of the contest
as head versus heart,
or as art versus
This year, the intellectuals’ picture
is Birdman, about a tormented
onetime movie action hero seeking
redemption in a Broadway drama,
that no one would claim is exactly a
pulse-racing entertainment. So why
do they love it? Critic Mark Harris
makes a convincing case in Grantland
that the reason Hollywood is so
smitten by Birdman is that, like recent
Best Picture predecessors The Artist
and Argo, it is a film about film - that
flatters the industry on its importance
or self-importance. This is a movie
about moviemakers.
Maybe so. But it is not only a movie
about the movie industry. It is a movie
about the industry’s pretensions to
art - a kind of intellectual Mobius strip
of a movie in which the characters
dismiss Hollywood’s comic-book
movies in favour of “serious work”.
Though it seems oblivious to its
own pretentiousness, Birdman is, if
nothing else, a very serious movie
that treats our ordinary movie-going
pleasures as if they were a disease.
Indeed, it is a chronicle of how to
conquer that disease.
There is, however, another contingent
in Hollywood, a large group of folks
who are more interested in displaying
their emotions. Their movie is Boyhood,
which follows 12 years in the life of a
youngster in Texas. It functions as the
anti-Birdman. No, Boyhood doesn’t
plug into teenage movie conventions.
There is no comic-book superhero,
much less the three-act structure
considered essential for commercial
movies. In fact, it had a hard time
finding a distributor.
But Boyhood is definitely a film of
the heart, not the head. It is so devoid
of pretentions that it almost seems as
if it is about nothing. Its virtue, critics
have attested, is that it unspools like
real life - full of tiny moments rather
than big ones.
By no means is it the sort of film
that Birdman reviles. But it is not
the sort of film that Birdman’s
protagonist, Riggan Thomson, would
be likely to make to prove his artistic
bona fides, either. It is not a big-issue,
high-art movie.
So there it is - Hollywood’s two
new primal tendencies squaring off:
the brainiacs against the big hearts,
those trumpeting their capacity to
think against those trumpeting their
capacity to feel.
You could call this a matter of
two different aesthetics, except
that it isn’t just about two divergent
approaches to art, or even life. It is
also about two divergent approaches
to personal image - which counts a
great deal in Hollywood. If Birdman
wins, it could signal the victory of
a new group that wants to show the
world that the movie industry is much
smarter than its detractors give it
credit for - one that can even see its
own shortcomings. If Boyhood wins,
it will be a victory for some of those
traditionalists who think of art as
an emotional enterprise and want to
show the world that they are much
more emotionally connected than they
are given credit for.
In either case, Hollywood is
saying that it knows the difference
between the movies it makes to get
rich and the movies it makes to be
That’s the big question for Oscar
handicappers: Does Hollywood want
to be seen as arty or as artless? Which
of these the industry chooses will not
only tell us the winner - unless The
Grand Budapest Hotel manages to
sneak in - but it will tell us, whither
zNeal Gabler is the author of An
Empire of Their Own: How the
Jews Invented Hollywood and Life:
The Movie: How Entertainment
Conquered Reality.
How number-crunchers keep winners secret
By Veronique Dupont
Los Angeles/AFP
y day, they are accountants
with global consulting firm
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But
from Friday, for two days, they
become keepers of one of the most
closely-guarded secrets in the world.
Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz
will be the only people who know the
winners of the coveted golden Oscar
statuettes, cinema’s most prestigious
They are the people who tally up the
votes of the 6,100-odd members of
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences (AMPAS), who choose
the Oscar winners.
“We print everything” for fear
of possible leaks or online hacking,
Cullinan told AFP, explaining how the
voting process has been revolutionised
over the last few years.
“For 84 years, (it) was only done
by paper. Over the last three years,
they have allowed members to vote
electronically, with a password. An
increasing number, the majority, now
vote electronically,” he said.
There are 24
categories, and over
6,000 votes to be
counted by hand
The pair have a team of five or
six people to help. But they make
absolutely sure that no single person
counts all the votes in a category, to
ensure nobody but them knows any of
the winners, said Ruiz.
There are 24 categories, and over
6,000 votes to be counted by hand.
That’s a lot of counting. The vote
ended on Tuesday evening. And they
had the results collated by Friday
Most categories - best actor,
actress, best song, et cetera - are
decided simply by counting the votes
and seeing who gets the most.
On six occasions over the decades,
there has been a tie, in which case two
statuettes are handed out. The last
time that happened was in 2013, for
best sound editing.
For best picture, it is more
complicated: the winner has to get
50% of votes plus one.
To achieve this, voters have to
rank their favourites from the eight
nominated movies. The first-choice
votes are then counted, and if none
gets 50%, then the film with the
least votes is dropped and its votes
redistributed to the other seven, based
on the second choice.
The process continues until one
film gets the crucial amount, the idea
being that the winning movie enjoys
a consensus of support, rather than
say just getting 20% but beating the
Security is, needless to say, a key
Both Cullinan and Ruiz each get
a set of 24 envelopes with category
names pre-printed, together with
24 cards. But they fill in the winning
names by hand before sealing them.
As a double fail-safe, each of them
memorises the category winners by
heart, just in case. Nobody apart from
the two of them knows the results.
From the moment that the results
are finalised, and a set of envelopes is
placed in each of two briefcases, both
of them are escorted by armed guards
until the start of the ceremony Sunday
They also split up, in case one of
them is unable for some reason to get
to the Dolby Theatre in time when the
curtain goes up at 5:30pm local time
(0130 GMT Monday).
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Stop choosing fear over science
The upsurge in measles
cases in the US can be
explained largely by the
increase in the number of
unvaccinated children
By Abdul el-Sayed
New York
rare, deadly, and highly
contagious disease is
spreading across the United
States, having infected more
than 100 people since the beginning
of the year, with thousands more
at risk. This is not the doomsday
Ebola scenario that so many were
envisioning when the first case in the
US was diagnosed five months ago.
The resurgence is of the measles – a
disease that the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention declared
eradicated in 2000, thanks to a highly
effective and safe vaccine. What went
Since 2000, measles cases in the
US have been attributed largely to
travellers bringing the disease into
the country. In recent years, however,
measles has become increasingly
common, with the number of cases
climbing above 150 in 2013, and then
jumping to 644 last year – the most
cases recorded in a single year since
the late 1990s. This year already
appears likely to top that record.
The upsurge in cases can be
explained largely by the increase in
the number of unvaccinated children.
Americans are learning the hard way
that scientifically baseless scepticism
about the safety of vaccines is
extremely dangerous.
Measles may have a lower mortality
rate than Ebola, but its potential
to inflict suffering and death
– especially on young children –
remains considerable. Indeed, before
vaccination made measles a rarity,
the disease was widely feared, killing
thousands of children every year.
The tragic irony of vaccination
in America is that it has become
a victim of its own success. As
the number of people who have
witnessed firsthand the effects
of measles and other childhood
diseases – such as mumps, rubella,
polio, and whooping cough –
has declined, so has society’s
commitment to keeping them away.
Even after panicked claims that
vaccines cause visible conditions like
autism were proved to be nonsense,
they remain more compelling than the
threat of a disease that people have
never seen or do not remember.
Of course, vaccinations can have
some side effects, such as a rash,
fatigue, headache, or a fever. But
claims that significant, permanent
damage resulting from vaccines is
widespread are entirely unfounded.
Andrew Wakefield first claimed
that there was a relationship between
the measles, mumps and rubella
vaccine and autism in 1998. But it
soon came to light that he had falsified
his evidence, and his “research” was
Wakefield was later banned from
practicing medicine in his home
country, the United Kingdom, for
“serious professional misconduct”.
But the damage had been done.
Despite Wakefield’s ostracism from
the medical community and the
exposure of his deceptions – not to
mention numerous scientific studies
that did not find any link whatsoever
between vaccines and autism – he has
retained a devoted following in the US.
Making matters worse, irresponsible
and ignorant celebrities have seized
upon his lies, using their access to the
media to spread conspiracy theories
and propaganda against vaccinations.
As a result, vaccination rates
continue to decline – and in some
communities, especially in California
and Oregon, they have plummeted.
From 1996 to 2015, there was a sixfold increase in the rate of vaccine
exemptions for students entering
elementary school in California. This
has contributed to the spread not
only of measles, but also of whooping
cough and mumps.
Parents argue that vaccination, like
all other decisions about how to raise
and care for their children, should
be their choice. But, when it comes
to vaccination, one family’s poor
judgment can mean sickness or even
death for another’s.
When enough members of a
community are vaccinated, a sort
of “immunity buffer” is created,
adding an extra layer of protection
for vaccinated individuals, while
shielding those who are not eligible
Dear Sir,
Kahramaa (Qatar General Electricity
and Water Corporation) always
stresses the importance of water
and power conservation and has run
many campaigns to spread the idea’s
awareness among the public. So it is
a concern when one witnesses people
want only wasting these precious
resources .
For instance, I have often seen
people washing cars at parking areas
of residential buildings, using potable
water. I live in a building behind
Oryx Rotana Hotel and the practice
is common in our residential parking
The other day when I went out
to get my car from the parking lot
near our building, I noted that a
Three-day forecast
vehicle next to mine had just been
The elaborate washing had splashed
a lot of mud and water on one side of
my car. We even could not reach our
cars because of the water and slush all
around it.
I had just done a full service of my
car at a service centre. Because of that,
the sight of my mud-splattered car
came as a shock to me. My building is
on Street 930.
I don’t think it is legal in Qatar to
wash cars using potable water. But it
is routine in our parking area. In fact
I have a feeling that a few tenants
are even in favour of this. The cars
are washed by taking water from
the storage tanks placed beside the
buildings in the area.
I hope the authorities concerned
will take necessary action to end this
illegal practice.
[email protected]
A major loss to
Indian cinema
Dear Sir,
He had produced and directed films
in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada,
Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi and
English. Probably, he is the only
filmmaker in India to work in so many
High: 26 C
Low : 16 C
Strong wind and high seas
Veteran multilingual Indian film
producer D Ramanaidu, popularly
known as “the movie mogul”, who was
suffering from prostate cancer, has
died in Hyderabad at a private hospital
at the age of 78. His death has shaken
the Indian film world
Ramanaidu held the Guinness Record
for the maximum number of films
produced by an individual. In 2012,
he was conferred with India’s Padma
Bhushan honour in recognition for his
contribution to the Telugu cinema.
In 2009, he received the Dada Saheb
Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement
in the film industry for his outstanding
contribution. He had contributed
a substantial part of his earnings to
numerous philanthropic activities.
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Low : 14 C
Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal
(e-mail address supplied)
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All letters, which are subject to editing, should have the name of the
writer, address and phone number.
The writer’s name and address may
be withheld by request.
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Live issues
Kuwait City
Feeding kids is serious stuff
By Barbara Quinn
The Monterey County Herald/TNS
h, the things we learn
from children. And I’ve
had quite an education
in the last couple of days
while babysitting my two-year-old
granddaughter and 10-month-old
grandson. Sitting at the table for lunch
one day, Frances patiently ate her
turkey sandwich and berries while I
shovelled baby meat and vegetables
into her hungry brother.
“Uh-oh,” she said, “I dropped a
strawberry on the floor.”
I’ll get it for you, I said, as I bent
down to pick it up.
“Thanks, Grammy,” she said,
“you’re a good helper.”
Even good kids need appropriate
boundaries, I’ve been reminded.
Open-ended questions like “What
pajamas do you want to wear?”
don’t really work with two-year
olds. And don’t ask her what she
wants for dinner, unless you are
particularly fond of eggs and toast
every night.
Children are good at giving signals
of what they really need, however. Pay
attention and respect what they tell
you. For instance, when baby Logan
gets cranky, he is either hungry, or
tired, or both. And while he’s being
fed, you know he’s satisfied when he
adamantly closes his mouth and turns
his head away.
Like other toddlers, Frances is
zAbdul el-Sayed is a professor of
epidemiology at the Mailman School of
Public Health, Columbia University.
Weather report
Potable water used
for car washes
for particular vaccines, such as infants
or people with compromised immune
systems – individuals for whom
disease-mortality rates are highest.
This phenomenon is called “herd
immunity” and it has been vital to
vaccines’ effectiveness.
This is not the first time that the
American public has allowed fear
to dictate public policy. Just a few
months ago, Americans were terrified
that Ebola could take hold in their
Rather than providing responsible
leadership, politicians like New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie and Senator
Rand Paul of Kentucky stoked the
panic in an effort to win support in
advance of last November’s midterm
Experts’ attempts to impress upon
Americans how difficult Ebola is to
transmit, and how unlikely an Ebola
epidemic in the US was, fell largely on
deaf ears.
Today, Americans are again refusing
to heed experts’ advice – only, this
time, they really are facing a serious
threat. Worse, politicians like Christie
and Paul have tacitly (or not so tacitly)
supported parents who choose not to
vaccinate their children, regardless
of the scientific consensus that such
parents are contributing to a genuine
public health crisis.
Paul – who is, ironically, a physician
– went so far as to mention the
many children he knew who suffered
“profound mental disorders” after
having had vaccinations, indulging
the anti-vaccination advocates who
might support him politically, while
stopping short of making a false
scientific claim. (By his logic, vaccines
make people taller, too; after all, nearly
every child I have known has grown
taller after being vaccinated.)
The scientific method is perhaps
the greatest arbiter of truth humanity
has ever devised. We must trust in it to
help make sense of an uncertain world,
and to help us determine how best to
nourish and protect our children and
When parents are allowed – or,
worse, encouraged – to choose fear
over science, we all pay the price. Project Syndicate
old enough to sit at the table and
feed herself. And she’s a pretty good
judge of when she has eaten enough.
It warms my heart, too, when she
finishes her meal and says, “S’cuse,
Children learn to like certain foods
when they are exposed to them on
repeated occasions, say nutrition
experts. I carried a bag of baby carrots
outside to make a nose for Frosty,
the snowman Frances and I had
created. Interesting that she wanted
to continue nibbling on them when we
came back into the house.
For a 2-year old, Frances is no
stranger to trying new foods. A friend
left a pan of homemade enchiladas
and I warmed them for dinner one
evening. I suspected they would be too
spicy for my young granddaughter;
but she stabbed a piece with her
toddler-size fork and took a bite. After
a moment she said, “It’s - it’s - tasty!”
Right or wrong, our children learn
from what we do more than what we
say, I’ve also been reminded this week.
Sliced apple snacks are just as good
for me as they are for Frances. And
we all thrive on physical activity. One
evening, Grammy was winding down
after a dance-a-thon to the music
of Frozen. Frances began to gallop
around and around and around the
living room. And while her captivated
brother looked on, she giggled and
said, “Come on, Wogan! It’s fun to
Kids are fun but feeding them is
serious stuff. These early years lay the
foundation for a child’s future health
and well-being, says the Academy
of Nutrition and Dietetics. Frances
drinks milk at meals, for example, not
juice or soda. And she is expected to
sit at the table for each of her meals
and snacks; no grazing allowed.
Last night, after recognising my
granddaughter’s great patience with
her baby brother, I told her she was
a really good kid. “I’m not a kid,” she
corrected me. “I’m a girl!”
zBarbara Quinn is a registered
dietitian and certified diabetes
educator at the Community Hospital of
the Monterey Peninsula. E-mail her at
[email protected]
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Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Doha Bank honours
11 Qatar schools for
sustainable practices
oha Bank has presented
11 Qatar schools with the
Eco-Schools Programme
awards yesterday in recognition of their commitment to
sustainable practices and for
developing innovative solutions to everyday environmental
The awards recognised
schools that played an active
role in propagating the concept of eco-consciousness
among students and demonstrated a high degree of innovation and creativity in completing their green projects
as part of the Eco-Schools
In 2014, the winning schools
received an Eco-Star Trophy in
several categories. The following received the Eco-Star trophies for the “environmental
health” category: MES Indian
School for their “Campus Care
Force” project, Shantiniketan
Indian School (Green School
Garden), Pakistan Education Centre (Solution to Improve Environmental Health),
and Philippine International School Qatar (Laughing
Dove Retreat).
In the “energy saving”
category, Bhavan’s Public
School received a trophy for
reducing the use of electricity, water, in the campus and
at students’ homes while in
the “water management”
category, Philippine School
Doha received the award for
using air-conditioning condensate to water a vegetable
Five schools received the
Eco-Star trophies for the
“waste management” category: Ahnaf Bin Qais Independent Preparatory School
for their “Managing Waste”
project, Birla Public School
(Best Out of Waste), Philippine International School Qatar (Plastic Bottle Reduction
and Recycling Programme), Al
Tamakon for Comprehensive
Education (Creative Arts from
Waste), and Doha Modern Indian School (Waste No Waste).
Aside from Eco-Star trophies,
certificates made from recycled
paper were distributed to participating students and teachers.
Organised by Doha Bank,
the Eco-Schools Programme
encourages children to become environmental advocates to provide a platform for
schools to contribute to environmental protection by im-
Participating students and teachers receive certificates made out of recycled paper.
Seetharaman is flanked by students wearing costumes made out of recycled materials.
Participants of Doha Bank’s Eco-Schools Programme awards gather in front of the bank’s headquarters for a group photo.
plementing effective measures
to reduce their overall carbon
Dr R Seetharaman, Group
CEO, Doha Bank, said: “The
challenges of food security,
poverty, and providing enough
water supply remain in the
achievement of sustainable
He said banks should earmark
risk weighted capital towards
“green banking” or “clean development mechanism” or sustainable development projects taking
into consideration the carbon
“As a forward-thinking and
socially responsible citizen,
Doha Bank has embraced sustainable business practices to
satisfy customers and promote
solid environmental stewardship,” he added.
Seetharaman stressed that
environmental stewardship is
one of the pillars of Doha Bank’s
corporate social responsibility
(CSR) efforts.
The Eco-Schools Programme
guides student action teams
within schools on their journey towards sustainability by
providing a framework to help
embed these principles into
the heart of school life. It offers
flexibility, allows creativity, and
encourages innovation on how
the school plans to transform
itself into becoming an ecofriendly institution.
For its core process, schools
are asked to create a framework for student action and
to make a commitment to the
Eco-Schools Committee. Once
approved, the schools implement the action plan, review,
and continue the process. The
committee later monitors the
progress and awards EcoStars to successful schools and
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Programmes launched to
instil values in students
A honorary shield from QRC is presented to the QC official in recognition of the support.
QC backs QRC in disaster
preparedness initiative
(QRC) has received a
QR100,000 donation
from Qatar Charity (QC) for
the sixth Disaster Management
Camp (DMC-6), which seeks to
enhance the culture of disaster
preparedness in Qatari society.
This is the fourth time that
QC has supported DMC, both
financially and with some of its
associates as trainees.
Final preparations are under
way for the 10-day DMC-6, to
be held from March 31 to April 9
at Marine Scout Camp, Al Khor,
under the patronage of HE the
Prime Minister and Interior
Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin
Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.
According to the agenda of
DMC, which is implemented
by 45 specialised trainers, the
participants will receive comprehensive information about
disaster management and international concepts such as
Sphere standards, psychological support, international humanitarian law, secure access
and restoring family links.
They will also be trained in
field assessment and co-ordination, healthcare, water and
sanitation, food and distribution, sheltering, registration
and logistics as well as media.
This year, the camp is expected to attract up to 350
participants from within and
outside Qatar.
Invitations were sent to
more than 20 Mena national
societies in co-ordination
with many Qatari government and non-government
organisations, International
Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent, International
Committee of the Red Cross,
United Nations and the Secretariat-General of the Cooperation Council for Arab
States of the Gulf.
Rashid bin Saad al-Mohannadi, director of QRC’s Social
and DMC manager, lauded
QC’s co-operation with QRC
in a number of programmes
and activities, describing the
initiative as not new for an
organisation with a long track
record of charity such as QC.
He said this contribution
strengthens the partnership
and humanitarian co-operation and helps build a culture
of preparedness in Qatari society to make it ready for any
Al-Mohannadi added that
the efforts of QRC and all participants in DMC contribute
to national capacity-building
in a systematic manner that
aligns with the priorities of
Qatar National Vision 2030.
DMC has established itself
as an event that distinguishes
QRC not only within Qatar, but
also across the region.
Awaited by many local and
international government and
organisations, it is the only specific
training at such a level to be introduced in Arabic.
atar Charity (QC) has
launched the fourth edition of its “I am Snafi”
and “A Gust of Wind” programmes.
The national programmes
aim to promote good values
among school students and were
launched under the auspices of
the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in partnership with
the Supreme Education Council, Holy Qur’an Radio, Shafallah
Centre for Children with Special
Needs, Girls’ Creativity Centre,
Qatar Photographic Society and
QC ambassadors, at the Qatar
Charity headquarters.
The launch was attended by
Nasser Mohamed al-Yafei, QC
executive director for Local
Development, Ahmed Youssef
al-Mullah, general supervisor
of “I am Snafi” and “A Gust of
Wind”, and Ahmed Ali, director
of Programmes and Projects for
Local Development Management, in addition to QC ambassadors Adel Lami, Ibrahim alGhanim, Abdulaziz al-Sulaiti,
Ismaa Hammadi, Salma al-Harami, Sheikha Muftah and Badria
Yaqout. It was also attended by
other officials from QC and relevant institutions, administrators
and school principals.
“‘I am Snafi’ and ‘A Gust of
Wind’ have proven their usefulness over the past three years
and we have witnessed the enthusiasm of students and their
excellence in drama, theatre and
photography,” al-Yafei said.
Al-Mullah said he is pleased to
oversee the launch of the fourth
campaign and explained that
the new elements added this
year would have a big impact
on the coming editions, such
as Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, theatre, an art
exhibition, YouTube movies,
radio drama, Nasheed, photography, drawing, summarising a
book and scientific research.The
programme seeks to promote values for school students annually,
through competitions, in technical, social and scientific skills.
The fourth edition, “Most beneficial to the people”, has themes
such as helping the needy, road
safety, teaching others, standing
in solidarity with what is right,
fighting injustice, advising each
other to do good and advice in
general. Participation is expected
to rise by over 35% compared to
the past three years. Cash prizes of
over QR340,000 will be distributed among schools, students and
Officials and dignitaries at the launch event.
Khojaly tragedy anniversary to be observed
Azerbaijanis around the world are preparing to mark
the 23rd anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy this
week, an embassy release said in Doha. According
to the release, in February 1992 the Armenian troops
supported by Soviet infantry attacked the Khojaly
town, which had a population of more than seven
thousand and razed it to the ground, killing hundreds
of civilians.“Twenty three years on and the world is
still oblivious to the suffering caused by the Armenian aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Armenian aggression and ethnic cleansing in
Karabakh and other territories of Azerbaijan resulted
in occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan territory and
expelling of 1mn people from their homes, by turning
them into refugees, internally displaced persons and
forcing them to live in tent-camps.” Azerbaijan’s community leaders have issued appeals on the eve of the
commemoration of the Khojaly “genocide,” urging
the international community to condemn the February 26, 1992 bloodshed, facilitate liberation of the
occupied territories and repatriation of the displaced
communities, the statement added.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Nakilat holds its annual
forum for national staff
The MoU sets the foundation for collaboration between the Language Centre at TII and the Chinese
embassy in Qatar, and is valid for two years.
HBKU’s TII signs
agreement with
Chinese embassy
he Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of
Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
with the Chinese embassy in Qatar recently.
Recognising the importance
of Arabic and Chinese language,
education and culture in the global economy, both parties have
committed to collaboration in
the areas of language teaching
and cultural activities for the
benefit of learners and the wider
Qatari community.
The MoU sets the foundation
for collaboration between the
Language Centre at TII and the
Chinese embassy in Qatar, and is
valid for two years.
The Language Centre at TII
supports the academic mission
of the institute by currently offering students expert language
training in five languages, including Mandarin Chinese.
Aimed to serve the needs of
the professional community in
Doha, classes emphasise the integration of language and culture
and incorporate technology in
learning and teaching.
Dr Amal al-Malki, executive
director of TII, said: “The MoU
will help us explore opportunities
to promote Chinese language and
culture in Qatar as well as Arabic,
Arab and Qatari culture in China.
The MoU helps realise our vision
of building linguistic capacity in
Qatar and opens the door to further collaborations with prominent Chinese institutions.”
The agreement marks a
strong commitment by TII and
the embassy to the promotion
of language education opportunities. The parties are dedicated to supporting academic
exchange and study-abroad
programmes in Qatar and China, and will also assist in the
organisation of public seminars
on China, its languages and
culture, with next year being
Qatar-China 2016, a year dedicated to mutual understanding,
recognition and appreciation
between the two countries.
Chinese ambassador Gao
Youzhen said, “The Chinese
language has the longest history
of continuous use and the largest mother-tongue population.
Along with China’s domestic
development and expansion of
international exchange, many
foreigners seek to learn the language in order to better understand Chinese culture.”
arine company Nakilat
held its annual meeting for national staff on
February 19 as part of its commitment to “building bridges”
and “strengthening communication” between Qatari employees and the company.
The annual meeting was also
an opportunity for Nakilat to
listen to concerns and follow
up on progress in learning and
development to allow the company to provide an “optimum
work environment” for skills
development and prepare employees to become “efficient and
effective” in the future.
All Qatari Nakilat employees
gathered for a one-day workshop
with presentations that emphasised on providing a professional
working environment where
national employees can flourish
and become key contributors in
Qatar marine industry.
The meeting also included recognition of Nakilat’s marine cadets
Nakilat officials and employees during the company’s annual meeting for national staff.
for their “hard work and commitment”. The senior management
listened to their academic experiences and the challenges they have
faced during the learning process
on board the vessel, which can take
up to four months.
Nakilat makes significant investments in the development
of young Qatari talent through
its Marine Cadet Sponsorship
Nakilat managing director
Abdullah Fadhalah al-Sulaiti
said, “We are immensely proud
of our Qatari employees and of
our company’s commitment to
the recruitment and continued
development of nationals.
“This meeting is invaluable
for reinforcing the importance
that Nakilat places on Qatarisation and on our contribution to
Qatar National Vision 2030 for
the sustainable development
of our economy and for the advancement of our people.”
Shuttle service to benefit DJWE visitors
rganisers of the 12th
Doha Jewellery and
(DJWE) have prepared “special
features” aimed at ensuring
customers’ convenience during the event, which will be held
from February 24 to 28 at Qatar
National Convention Centre
“We have taken hospitality to
a new level by providing a shuttle bus service between the designated car park area at QNCC
and the main entrance to the exhibition. The shuttle bus service will operate at 10-minute
intervals,” said q.media Events,
which is organising the exhibition in partnership with Fira
Once inside the venue, visitors will be greeted by a fleet of
electric golf carts to assist them
around the QNCC premises.
“This was designed specifically for visitors to allow them
to enjoy their time at the pavilions rather than walking from
one point to another. Visitors
will also find plenty of seating
areas interspersed throughout
the venue so that they can take
a break anywhere,” q.media
Events said.
Fira Barcelona director of ex-
hibitions Miquel Serrano added,
“Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition has taken every care to
make visitors not only feel comfortable but also navigate their
way around the venue at their
own pace. This enables them to
enjoy the exhibition in its entirety and visit as many pavilions they want without feeling
For more insights about the
exhibition, visit www.djwe.qa
and register online. Updates on
social media pages are available
on Facebook (www.facebook.
com/DJWExpo), Instagram and
Twitter (@djwexpo).
Turkey walks
into middle
income trap
eyes Islamic
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Jumada I 3, 1436 AH
US oil workers’ union
expands biggest plant
strike since 1980
Russia gets 2nd junk rating
from Moody’s after S&P hit
Moscow/New York
ussia’s credit rating was cut
to below investment grade by
Moody’s Investors Service,
which joined Standard & Poor’s in
ranking the country’s debt as junk,
citing the conflict in Ukraine and
plunging oil prices.
The rating company downgraded
Russia one step to Ba1, the highest
non-investment level and in line
with countries including Hungary
and Portugal. Moody’s has a negative rating outlook on the country,
according to a report released Friday. Standard & Poor’s decision cut
the country to speculative grade in
“The existing and potential future international sanctions, the
erosion of the country’s foreign
exchange buffers and persistently
lower oil prices plus high and rising inflation will take a negative toll
on incomes as well as business and
consumer confidence,” Moody’s
said in the report. “While the fall
in the oil price and the exchange
rate have reversed somewhat since
the start of the year, the impact on
inflation, confidence and growth is
likely to be sustained.”
The world’s biggest energy exporter is on the brink of a recession
after crude fell to the lowest since
2009 and the US and its allies imposed sanctions following President Vladimir Putin’s annexation
of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
The penalties have locked Russian
corporate borrowers out of international debt markets and curbed
investor appetite for the rouble,
stocks and bonds.
Downgrades to junk from at least
two rating companies may force
money managers whose investment guidelines prohibit them
Pedestrians walk past stores and currency bureaus on Nevsky Prospekt shopping street in Saint Petersburg
(file). Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, is on the brink of a recession after crude fell to the lowest since
2009 and the US and its allies imposed sanctions following President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea from
Ukraine in March.
from holding debt rated below investment grade to sell as much as
$5.8bn of Russian dollar and local
bonds, according to a January report from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“Most bond funds, which have
rules against investing in noninvestment-grade securities, will
have to sell bonds regardless of
whether they want to do that or
not”, Slava Smolyaninov, a strategist at UralSib Capital in Moscow,
said by phone yesterday. “Investors
will re-evaluate Russia and regard it
as more risky. As a result, risk premiums will be higher.”
Non-residents held 877bn roubles ($14.1bn) of Russia’s local-currency bonds known as OFZs as of
December 1, or 24.2% of the total,
according to the latest figures available from the central bank. That’s
down from a peak of 28.1% on May
1, 2013, though up from just 3.7% at
the start of 2012. The decision by
Moody’s ignores information provided by Russia’s finance ministry
about the economy as well as the
country’s fiscal and financial policies, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in an e-mailed statement
after the report.
“The decision by Moody’s isn’t
just negative beyond all reason,
but it’s based on an extremely pessimistic outlook,” Siluanov said.
“The agency was guided primarily
by political factors when deciding
to cut the rating.”
Moody’s estimates capital outflow from Russia will reach $400bn
in 2015-2016, while the economy
will shrink 8.5% during that period,
Siluanov said. The figures weren’t
included in the rating company’s
Russia’s Economy Ministry predicts gross domestic product will
contract 3% with capital outflow
at $115bn this year, according to its
forecast submitted to the government this month. GDP fell 1.5% in
January from a year earlier, according to the ministry’s preliminary
Alexei Kudrin, who oversaw the
country’s finances when Russia
earned an investment-grade rating
in the mid-2000s, said the timing of the cut to junk was hard to
explain, according to a post on his
Twitter account.
The Finance Ministry doesn’t
expect the decision by Moody’s to
have an “additional serious impact
on capital markets,” it said. The
share of non-resident holders of
OFZs won’t decline significantly,
according to the ministry’s estimates.
“There won’t be short-term
consequences as everybody was
Qatar, Turkey businesses look to enhance ties
Commercial Bank and the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) jointly hosted
a lunch for a delegation of prominent
businessmen from Turkey.
The Turkish delegation was represented
by chairmen, CEOs and board members
of major Turkish business groups visiting
Doha. During their visit, the VIPs were
invited to a special reception attended
by the QBA as well as Commercial Bank
board members. Also attending were
dignitaries from the board of directors
of Alternatifbank (ABank), Commercial
Bank’s Turkish subsidiary.
The reception falls under the QBA’s initiatives to support and enhance Qatar’s
private sector in line with the Qatar
National Vision 2030. Discussions at
the lunch focused on sharing ideas for
increased business collaborations and
the strengthening of relations between
Turkey and Qatar.
Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal al-Thani, board
member, QBA, welcomed the delegation,
and stressed the importance of such
visits in strengthening the economic ties
between the two countries.
He also noted that the association and the
Qatari businessmen are ready to facilitate
and support all Turkish companies wishing to enter the Qatari market.
Commercial Bank CEO Abdulla Saleh al-
Commercial Bank and QBA leaders with prominent Turkish businessmen at the
special lunch reception hosted in honour of the visiting Turkish delegation in
Raisi said, “We are delighted to welcome
the Turkish business delegation to Qatar
with the Qatari Businessmen Association.
Commercial Bank has strong ties with Turkey and became the majority shareholder
in mid-sized Turkish bank, ABank in 2013.
“Turkey is a key part of our regional
strategy and this reception is important
for building relationships, exploring longterm growth opportunities and demonstrating the increasing regional strength
of the Commercial Bank.”
expecting the downgrade and those
who wanted to sell securities, already did,” Anton Tabakh, chief
economist at RusRating, a Russian credit rating company, said by
phone yesterday. “Of course, the
rating cut is bad for companies, for
banks that are still alive. In general,
there is nothing good in a downgrade.”
The yield on Russia’s $3bn of
dollar bonds due 2023 has surged
1.72 percentage points over the
past year to 6.4%. The rouble has
plunged 42% to 62.05 per dollar in
the span, the worst performance
among 31 major currencies tracked
by Bloomberg.
Investors often disregard ratings companies’ credit grade and
outlook changes. France’s 10-year
yield, which was 3.08% when S&P
removed its top rating in January 2012, tumbled to a record-low
1.112% on October 15 last year, from
“The financial markets in Russia are inherently volatile as long
as there is uncertainty about the
direction of oil prices and as long
as the military conflict continues,”
Kristin Lindow, senior vice president in the sovereign risk group at
Moody’s, said by phone from New
York on Friday. “We don’t see a
logical end to the sanctions in view
of the fact that the ceasefire such as
what was negotiated last week has
not been complete.”
With continued fighting pushing
a cease-fire sealed last week to the
brink of collapse, European Union
President Donald Tusk threatened
Friday to impose tougher sanctions.
At a meeting of Russia’s Security Council in Moscow on Friday
focused on the conflict in Ukraine,
participants also discussed matters
related to the domestic economy,
the Kremlin said in a statement.
More than 700
delegates are
expected for 9th
MultaQa Qatar
ore than 700 senior business and reinsurance market leaders from some 30 countries will attend the 9th annual MultaQa
Qatar conference, which will be held from March 8.
The two-day conference, co-hosted by the Qatar
Central Bank and the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
Authority, will feature keynote addresses by HE the
Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi and HE the
QCB Governor Sheikh Abdulla bin Saud al-Thani.
On MultaQa’s impact on the region’s rapid business development, Shashank Srivastava, QFC Authority chief executive officer said, “Over the past
nine years, MultaQa has successfully established
itself as the region’s leading risk and reinsurance
platform. MultaQa is the go-to conference for the
region’s top insurance executives to share their
knowledge and experience, while conducting business meetings benefiting the market and contributing to Qatar’s regional thought leadership.”
Srivastava said the QFC Authority continued
to support development of local knowledge and
the launch at
“MultaQa is the go-to
MultaQa of
conference for the region’s
a project to
top insurance executives to
translate inshare their knowledge and
experience, while conducting surance texts
business meetings benefiting into Arabic.
“The dethe market and contributing
to Qatar’s thought leadership” v e l o p m e n t
of a robust
insurance industry is key to the goal of creating a
competitive, diversified economy in Qatar. Arabic
language business texts contribute vitally to the
knowledge-base that necessarily underpins such
an endeavour,” he added.
The 9th edition of MultaQa will also feature an essay competition, organised by GR magazine and the
QFC Authority to engage with and support young regional talent. Reinsurance professionals from across
the region can discuss issues facing the industry and
provoke debate and intelligent analysis on the future
of reinsurance in the Mena (Middle East and North
Africa) region. The winning article will be selected
by a panel of leading business and reinsurance executives and will be published in the summer issue
of GR magazine. Over the conference’s duration,
delegates from around the world will participate in a
diverse range of panel discussions, bilateral business
meetings and networking opportunities that will
highlight key trends and strategic issues vital to the
insurance industry’s growth in Qatar and the region.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
forum looks to foster
Qatar entrepreneurship
hlibank will be the platinum sponsor of the
“Entrepreneurship in Economic Development
Forum” slated on March 2 and 3 at the Sheraton
Hotel, the bank said in a statement.
The forum will be a platform for experts from the
business community and academia from across the
GCC and the world to discuss plans and strategies for
supporting entrepreneurship, the statement added.
Ahlibank CEO Salah Murad said, “Entrepreneurship
is considered a key driver of growth and diversification
in any economy. By supporting entrepreneurship, we
help create fresh opportunities and enhance the role
of the private sector, which is a corner stone of economies globally. Qatar has shown impressive progress
in this field along with other GCC countries as the
private sector continuous to witness sustainable and
steady growth.”
He added, “The forum will be an interactive platform to discuss deep insights about entrepreneurship
and will evaluate the current situation in Qatar. We are
delighted to be a part of this event and support it for
the second year.”
Held under the patronage of HE the Minister of
Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim
bin Mohamed al-Thani, the forum is organised by Qatar University in collaboration with Interactive Business Network (IBN).
IBN CEO Raed Chehaib said, “The forum will bring
together young prospective business owners with established business leaders to encourage and support
the spirit of entrepreneurship in Qatar and the Gulf
through practical advice. The forum will be attended
by both the public and private sector, in addition to academics, professionals, and students from Qatar and
the region.”
He added, “We thank Ahlibank for supporting this
event as this reflects its direction in supporting the
entrepreneurship sector in Qatar. The forum is getting the support of key organisations in Qatar, and this
proves the importance of such events at this stage.”
Murad: Deep insights on entrepreneurship in Qatar.
board of
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding
Company (MPHC) and Gulf
International Services (GIS)
have “recomposed” their board
of directors and executive
Ahmad Saif al-Sulaiti is the new
chairman of MPHC. The vicechairman is Mohamed Salem Alyan
al-Marri. The board members are
Abdulrahman Ahmad al-Shaibi,
Abdulaziz Mohamed al-Mannai,
Abdulaziz Jassim Mohamed alMuftah, Nabeel Mohamed al-Buenain
and Khalid Mohamed al-Subaey,
member and managing director.
MPHC, a Qatar Petroleum subsidiary
is partially floated on the Qatar
Exchange. It is one of the region’s
premier diversified petrochemical
conglomerates with interests in the
production of olefins, polyolefins,
alpha olefins and chlor-alkali products.
Sheikh Khaled bin Khalifa al-Thani,
who represents QP, is the new GIS
chairman. Suleiman Haidar al-Haidar
is the vice-chairman.
Ebrahim Ahmad al-Mannai, a QP
representative, is the new managing
director. He will also be a member on
the GIS board of directors.
The other members are Khalid Saeed
al-Rumaihi (QP representative),
Sheikh Jassim bin Abdullah bin
Mohamed al-Thani (Zekreet
Investment Company representative)
and Mohamed Abdullah Ali
al-Mannai, (Qatar Horizon
GIS is the largest service group
in Qatar with interests in a broad
cross-section of industries, ranging
from insurance, re-insurance, fund
management, onshore and offshore
drilling, accommodation barge,
helicopter transportation, and
catering services.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Turkish students face battle
to escape middle income trap
he middle income trap is set, and
Turkey is walking right into it.
As an ageing population and
rising labour costs weigh on an economy larger than any in the Middle East,
Turkey’s quest to join the exclusive
club of so-called high-income countries depends on how well its youth can
compete globally. The government says
the country is on track to reach firstworld status this decade by using education reform to build a more skilled
and productive workforce.
So far the strategy has faltered, because the nation’s schools are not “giving kids the skills they need to transform
the Turkish economy,” said Reha Civanlar, vice rector of Ozyegin University.
While Turkey’s education system is
improving, it is lagging those of many
peers, with two thirds of working adults
lacking a high school degree. According
to a report published by the OECD last
month, Turkey has the highest proportion of 20-to-24-year-olds who are
neither in employment, nor in education or training, followed by Greece,
Italy and Spain.
The failure to become high income
- which the World Bank says means
average earnings per person of above
$13,000 - could leave Turkey in a growing pack of countries stuck in the middle and competing for low-paid jobs.
With an average salary per person
of $10,972, Turkey is one of 49 middle
income countries since 1960 that have
failed to reach high income status, according to a Turkish central bank report
in September. Only eight countries
have made the transition. President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged that
Turkey will enter the global top 10 of
world economies by 2023, the centennial of the nation’s birth.
While economists disagree over the
mechanisms that lead to countries
stagnating, many say that education
reform is an important means to break
out of the trap. Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said it was central to the
government’s fight in an article for the
Wall Street Journal in September.
So far, reforms have included increasing compulsory education to 12
years from 8, boosting teacher salaries,
opening hundreds of schools and universities, and supporting research and
development since the government
came to power in late 2002.
Although Turkey improved its performance in mathematics by 3 score
points per year since 2003 in OECD’s
PISA tests, the international standard
for assessing education, the 2012 test
results showed Turkey’s youth still below the OECD average as others counties improved apace.
“Around 25% of the Turkish 15-yearolds do not read well enough to be able
to analyse and understand what they
are reading and are therefore considered by the OECD to be ‘‘functionally
illiterate,’’ according to a World Bank
blog in 2013 by senior education economist Naveed Hassan Naqvi.
mirates NBD (ENBD), Dubai’s largest bank, expects
its loan growth to be between 5% and 7% in 2015 and
for the coming year to be “very
profitable” despite the falling oil
price, its chief executive has said.
UAE lenders have enjoyed
bumper earnings growth in recent quarters, aided by buoyant economic conditions locally,
strong credit growth and the
reduction in levels of cash set
aside to cover bad debts. However, some analysts have pointed
to lower earnings growth this
year as the oil price fall tempers
economic growth in the Gulf,
with Standard & Poor’s also citing UAE banks not receiving the
same boost to their earnings of
improving asset quality into 2015.
ENBD has been helped by this
latter factor in particular in recent
quarters, having been forced to set
aside billions of dirhams to cover
bad loans in the wake of Dubai’s
economic crisis at the turn of the
decade—its fourth-quarter profit
jumped 82%, helped by its reclassification of its Dubai World debt
as performing.
“Given our concentration on
Dubai and it’s very little reliance
Saudi Arabia is boosting
oil production, pursuing
its policy to maintain
market share as prices fall,
Bloomberg reported.
Crude oil output is about
10mn bpd, New York-based
Pira Energy Group said in a
weekly report on Thursday,
citing discussions with Saudi
customers. That would be
the highest since July and
up from an average of 9.7mn
bpd in the second half of
2014, according to data from
the Joint Organisations Data
Initiative, an industry group
supervised by the Riyadhbased International Energy
Saudi Arabia, the world’s
largest crude exporter, led the
Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries’ decision
in November to maintain its
output target to preserve
market share, rather than cut
supply to boost prices. The
fastest US crude production in
three decades helped trigger
a global glut that pushed oil
prices about 50% lower in the
past year.
Crude demand is improving
amid signs prices are
stabilising, the state-run Saudi
Press Agency reported on
February 12, citing Oil Minister
Ali al-Naimi.
UAB chief sees ‘good
loan growth’ as
economy expands
A little Turkish girl walks with her mother after being picked up from school, in the Cihangir district of Istanbul (file). While Turkey’s education system is improving, it is
lagging those of many peers, with two thirds of working adults lacking a high school degree. According to a report published by the OECD last month, Turkey has the
highest proportion of 20-to-24-year-olds who are neither in employment, nor in education or training, followed by Greece, Italy and Spain.
At one elementary school in Ankara,
15-year-old student Mustafa says he
wants to become an aerospace engineer. Yet his hopes are tinged with concerns over the quality of his education.
‘‘I don’t want to blame teachers, but
we’re forced to memorize lots of formulas for example in physics lesson
without learning how to implement
them,” he said.
Teachers at two separate state-run
schools say that many students can’t
read flawlessly and struggle to implement the knowledge they have.
“None of these reforms are fostering
innovation and free thought,” Gunes
Asik of The Economic Policy Research
Foundation of Turkey, or TEPAV, said
in Ankara. “The education system has
historically been an ideological tool in
Turkey” and that’s hindering Turkish
children from progressing.
There are questions over whether
the government wants to foster greater
freedom, according to Anthony Skin-
ENBD forecasts up to
7% loan growth in 2015
Saudi oil production
rising amid battle
for market share
on oil, we would expect good
growth for ENBD and the banking
sector as a whole,” Shayne Nelson
told reporters on the sidelines of a
media event. Nelson declined to
give a specific forecast for profit
growth this year, but noted if no
new problem loans materialise,
the bank “should have a very profitable year this year”.
While banks have to be careful
about managing their liquidity
in a lower oil price environment,
Nelson expected loan growth to
be around the 5%-7% range this
year. This would put it ahead of
the 3% increase in total loans recorded by the bank in 2014.
ENBD, which bought the
Egyptian business of BNP Paribas in 2013, is hoping to expand
into India, although its ambitions may be hampered by
regulatory issues which link the
granting of licences in a target
country to reciprocal licences
being granted in the UAE — an
market with 49 lenders servicing around 8mn people. However, Nelson declined to comment
on whether the bank would
like to expand further in Egypt.
ENBD is one of 10 lenders who
have bid for Citigroup’s consumer banking business in the
North African country, sources
told Reuters last month.
ner, head of analysis for the Middle East
and North Africa at UK-based forecasting company Verisk Maplecroft.
The growing number of religious
schools in Turkey “hardly provides the
conditions for a high-skilled dynamic
work force with an internationally competitive edge,” Skinner said by e-mail.
While educational reforms may be
falling short, Turkey’s economy is also
facing the end of fast-track growth
based on access to cheap credit and
foreign investment. During the second
half of Erdogan’s 11-year run as prime
minister, growth was less than half the
6.8% average of the first half of his rule.
That’s below the target level of 6% that
the World Bank says is needed for Turkey to reach high income status.
Should Turkey fail to break into the
high income bracket, its slowing economy, an ageing population and rising
wages may lead to stagnation that has
beset other countries like South Africa
and Brazil that have failed to escape the
trap, according to the Turkish central
bank report.
The 8 countries of the 57 that have
achieved high income status since
1960 include Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea,
Singapore and Taiwan, according to the
report. Countries that escape the trap
spend on average 42 years as middle income country. Turkey has already spent
60 years in the category.
Time may be running out to make
the leap because Turkey’s ageing population is likely to drive up wages that
will hurt competitiveness before the
economy has transitioned to a skillsbased one.
“Turkey’s population is aging rapidly and there either needs to be a larger
base of young workers to support pensioners or a relatively smaller, educated
one capable of being more productive,”
said Skinner.
Turkey is already suffering from a
shortage of high-tech companies and
skilled workers, according to Yaman
Tunaoglu, a board member of Karel
Elektronik Sanayi ve Ticaret, told a
conference in Ankara on December 24
“We have lots of projects abroad but
we find it very difficult to find qualified
technicians,” said Tunaoglu. Turkey
says it lacks 100,000 people in the information technology sector, Fikri Isik,
minister of science, industry and technology, said on December 17.
That’s left students like Mustafa
trapped, like his country, between his
ambitions and the reality. While he aspires to have a high income job, history
suggests he’ll be lucky to surpass his
parents’ education status. The OECD’s
2009 education survey, the latest available report on inter-generational mobility in Turkey, suggests that 66% of
Turkish youth have the same level of
education as their families.
“I am not happy with the quality of
my education,” Mustafa said. “I fear it
may fail me in reaching my goals.”
Sharjah-based United Arab
Bank (UAB) will have “good
loan growth” in 2015 as the
UAE economy expands 2%
to 3%, chief executive officer
Paul Trowbridge said.
“We will outperform the
sector,” Trowbridge said in an
interview yesterday in Dubai
where the bank is building a
regional office that it expects
to open in five years.
Assets grew to 25.7bn
dirham ($7bn) last year
from 7bn dirham in 2009,
according to data compiled
by Bloomberg. The expansion
came by taking market share,
Trowbridge said. He declined
to give a specific forecast for
loan growth this year.
The UAE economy is
diversified enough in logistics
to residential real estate and
tourism that low oil prices
will only be a “moderating
factor” to growth, he said. The
member of the Organisation
of Petroleum Exporting
Countries holds about 6% of
global oil reserves. Oil prices
have dropped about 45% in
the past year. UAE economic
growth slowed from 5.2%
in 2013 to 4.3% last year,
according to data compiled
by Bloomberg.
UAE bank bonds dominate Gulf
as corporate sales stand at zero
or the first time since 2009, the
number of Gulf corporate bond
sales at this stage of the year is
The UAE’s two biggest banks, Emirates NBD and
National Bank of Abu Dhabi, are among issuers so
far this year.
Banks have been the only issuers of bonds in the six-nation Gulf
Co-operation Council so far in 2015,
with all but one from lenders based in
the UAE, according to data compiled
by Bloomberg. Total sales are down
about 7.8% from this point last year,
and more than 60% from the 2012
record, the data show.
Companies have contributed to
the slump in issuance as they opt for
loans from local banks flush with cash
and after a decline in crude prices
threatened economic growth in the
GCC, which is home to about a third
of the world’s proven oil reserves.
With a limited supply of new notes,
investors have poured cash into the
secondary market, driving yields in
the region to near record lows.
Corporates “are getting cheap
funding from the banks,” Doug Bitcon, a Dubai-based fund manager at
Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd, said by
phone on last Tuesday. “Banks recognise that down the line there’s going
to be lower levels of liquidity available
and they want to be ahead of the curve
in terms of funding.”
First Gulf Bank, the UAE’s thirdbiggest bank by assets, raised $750mn
from the sale of five-year dollar notes
on Tuesday, according to two people
familiar with the deal, who asked not
to be identified because the information is private. The notes were priced
to yield 100 basis points, or 1 percentage point, over the benchmark midswap rate, they said.
“The banking sector is raising
bonds and lending to the companies,”
Montasser Khelifi, a Dubai-based
senior manager at Quantum Investment Bank Ltd, said by phone on
Tuesday. “Now it’s difficult to find
some sukuk or bonds that have significant upside because they’ve been
trading for a long time. It’s always
good to have a dynamic primary market.”
The average yield on bonds sold by
Middle East issuers was at 4.598%
on Tuesday, just off a record low of
4.566% on August 29, according to
JPMorgan Chase & Co indexes.
The UAE’s two biggest banks, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD, are among issuers so far
this year. About $3.2bn of notes were
sold through Tuesday. Last year,
companies including Saudi Electricity Co and Kuwait Projects Co were
among borrowers that raised about
$3.5bn in the same period.
“In 2014, some of the issuers that
had previously tapped the debt capital markets were refinancing via
syndicated facilities or bilateral facilities,” Bitcon said. “Maybe if we see
less liquidity in the banking sector,
then we might see more issuance by
the corporates.”
Standard & Poor’s said last week
that deposit growth in some UAE
banks would be “noticeably weaker”
in the next two years due to a drop in
government and public sector deposits after oil prices declined.
Brent crude has declined 43% in 12
months to $61.90 a barrel. Governments in the region rely on income
from crude to help fund their budgets.
UAE banks’ ratio of loans to deposits, a measure of liquidity, improved
to 98.2% in December from 99.7% a
year earlier, according to central bank
data. In neighbouring Saudi Arabia,
the biggest Arab economy, the ratio
improved to 86% in December from
86.8% a year earlier, according to data
from the country’s regulator.
Investors are left waiting for more
diverse issuance, Quantum’s Khelifi
said. “We’re still hungry for diversification and names from other sectors,” he said. “There’s money to be
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Alibaba loses some sheen with hedge funds
Dow Jones
Hedge funds held about 2.7% of shares outstanding in Alibaba on December 31, 2014, according to analytics firm Novus Partners, down from 4% three
months earlier.
sliding dollar
tempts Japan
Post to acquire
Toll Holdings
Japan Post Holdings agreed to spend A$6.5bn ($5.1bn)
for the nation’s biggest-ever acquisition in Australia as
a slide in the local dollar makes deals in the country
more attractive.
Japan’s biggest financial group by assets announced
on Wednesday it will buy Toll Holdings, the Melbournebased transport company with operations spanning
road, air, sea and rail routes. The deal eclipses Kirin
Holdings Co’s $3.4bn takeover of Australian beverage
maker Lion Nation Pty as the largest Japanese
takeover in the country, according to data compiled by
The purchase adds to the $32.2bn of acquisitions
Japanese companies made in Australia over the past
decade as they seek to reduce dependence on a
domestic market with a shrinking population. Recent
deals have shown a shift away from the resources
investments by Japanese trading houses such as
Mitsui & Co and Marubeni Corp that dominated
previous years, the Bloomberg-compiled data show.
“The Australian dollar has been a driver and it also
helps soften any acquisition risk,” Paul Murphy, head
of transactions at Ernst & Young in Melbourne, said
by phone on Wednesday. “The US had been a happy
hunting ground for Japanese companies when the US
dollar was weaker, but many of those opportunities
are now more expensive.”
Economists forecast the Australian economy will
grow 2.5% in 2015, slower than last year’s estimated
2.7%, according to the median of 33 estimates in a
Bloomberg News survey. The local dollar has fallen
8.9% against the Japanese yen since hitting a high on
November 21.
Recruit Holdings, Japan’s biggest provider of
temporary staff, took advantage of the slide when
it said in January it plans to buy Australian recruiter
Chandler Macleod Group for $309mn, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg. It agreed the same day
to acquire Peoplebank Holdings Pty for about $56mn,
the data show.
The deals followed the A$1.2bn purchase of Tower
Australia Group by Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co, Japan’s
second-largest life insurer, in 2011. Asahi Group
Holdings took control of soft-drink maker Schweppes
Australia Pty for £550mn ($849mn) in 2009.
“Japan Inc’s appetite for Australian companies has
been growing, particularly in the service sector,”
said Koichi Haji, an executive research fellow at NLI
Research Institute in Tokyo.
“In Australia, they’ve got natural resources and
political stability, as well as proximity to the Southeast
Asian region.”
Australia returned to sixth place on Ernst & Young’s
global survey of preferred M&A destinations in
October last year, after dropping out of the top 10 in
2013 when commodity prices started to fall and the
Australian dollar remained high, according to Murphy.
The Toll deal shows how Japanese investments in
Australia are changing from commodities projects to
companies with “Australian skills and knowledge,” Toll
chairman Ray Horsburgh said.
Japan Post began studying an acquisition of Toll
mid-last year and hired advisers Gresham Advisory
Partners and Mizuho Securities, before senior
executives from the Japanese company met with the
target at its Melbourne headquarters in December,
people with knowledge of the matter said. They asked
not to be identified discussing private information.
The deal, codenamed “Project Crystal” by the
Japanese company and “Project Young” by Toll, came
together after further meetings in Tokyo last month
that included the Australian logistics firm’s adviser
Lazard, the people said. Japan Post then made an
indicative offer and started due diligence, which led
to a formal agreement after a board meeting in Tokyo,
Horsburgh said.
Spokesmen for Japan Post and Toll declined to
comment on the details of the talks.
“We’re likely to see more acquisitions here from
Japanese companies as they need growth outside
their home market,” said Craig Semple, a Melbournebased partner at law firm Gilbert + Tobin. “The most
attractive companies will be those that, like Toll, have
worked to increase their exposure to Asia.”
libaba Group Holding was the darling
of the hedge fund industry in the third
quarter. It’s still a hedge fund favourite
– but a lot less so, according to data released
on Friday.
Hedge funds held about 2.7% of shares outstanding in the Chinese e-commerce company at the end of the year, according to analytics firm Novus Partners, down from 4% of
the shares three months earlier. That amounts
to about 30mn shares offloaded, which would
have been worth about $3bn on December 31.
Another metric by which to measure Alibaba’s popularity: It went from being the 7th
most popular hedge fund holding at the end of
the third quarter to the 20th, according to AlphaClone, which measures popularity by the
number of hedge funds with Alibaba among
their top 20 holdings.
Hedge funds that exited the stock include
Appaloosa Management, Eton Park Capital
Management, Highfields Capital Management
and Omega Advisors. Viking Global Investors,
which had bought into Alibaba before its public debut, and Maverick Capital reduced their
holdings, Novus said. An analytics firm for institutional investors, Novus studied more than
1,000 funds’ regulatory filings and counts as
hedge funds those firms focused on running
hedge fund assets rather than broadly diversified money managers. Hedge funds can trade
in and out of positions so the quarterly filings
provide only a snapshot of their holdings.
Hedge funds connected with Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management – including funds
founded by proteges of Robertson, funds seeded by Tiger and funds founded by mentees of
Robertson’s proteges – reduced their Alibaba
holdings by about a half billion dollars, based
on the closing price of Alibaba shares at the
end of the year, Novus found.
So-called “Tiger Cubs,” “Tiger Seeds” and
“Tiger Grandcubs” have a reputation for trading in a similar fashion, having been schooled
in a like-minded investment style.
But some big-name investors are championing Alibaba. Tiger Global Management,
also connected to Robertson and known for its
pre-IPO investments in technology companies including Facebook and Zynga, reported
a new stake of 5.8mn shares. Third Point, run
by investor Daniel Loeb, increased its stake to
10mn shares, up from 7.2mn shares at the end
of September.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Indonesia plans to create
$8bn mega-Islamic bank
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
nlike Malaysia, where a planned
multi-billion banking merger
ended in a complete failure in
mid-January, Indonesia seems to push
ahead with its own plans to create a new
$8bn Islamic bank that would mainly
arise from the merger of three large domestic Shariah-compliant lenders.
According to the chairman of Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority,
Muliaman Hadad, the merger between
the Islamic finance units of government-controlled Bank Mandiri, Bank
Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Negara Indonesia, as well as a small unit of Bank
Tabungan Negara, could happen as early as this year.
The idea behind the mega-merger is
to create an Islamic banking institution
that would be able to face the growing
foreign competition in Shariah-banking in Indonesia through so-called “Islamic windows” of conventional banks,
as well as to boost the currently quite
small market share of Islamic finance
in the country of about 5% four-fold
to 20% by 2018, as per a forecast by the
Indonesia Islamic Banking Association,
bringing the share on par with Malaysia.
The new Islamic mega-bank would
also be a catalyst for new products for
retail customers and businesses and
generally improve public awareness of
Shariah-compliant finance. It would
have lower operating costs and through
its combined asset base would be able to
finance larger infrastructure projects in
the country, Hadad argued.
Together with a five-year roadmap for Islamic banking development drafted by Indonesia’s Financial
Services Authority, the new focus on
Islamic finance should correct the
imbalance between Indonesia’s huge
Muslim population and their low use
of Shariah-compliant financial products and services. For example, while
the number of Indonesia’s Muslims
is 12 times higher than Malaysia’s –
Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population of any country in the
world – total deposits at Islamic banks
are less than a sixth of Malaysia’s, the
Jakarta Globe cited official data. The
roadmap thus plans to introduce clear
new regulations on Islamic finance,
as well as incentives to attract firsttime investors to the Islamic finance
market. It also will seek that the new
mega-Islamic bank will integrate itself into the global financial system
by bringing its risk management and
capital requirements in line with international standards.
Compared internationally, with just
$24bn, Indonesia’s Islamic banking
assets are currently just slightly above
the UK’s, where Islamic banking has
grown impressively in the recent past
and reached an asset base of $19bn as
per 2014. They are also significantly
lower than Saudi Arabia’s ($260bn),
the UAE’s ($90bn) and Qatar’s ($60bn).
Malaysia’s Islamic finance assets are
worth around $115bn as of 2014.
With regards to foreign investors,
Indonesia has already tested the appetite for sukuks, or Islamic bonds. In
September last year, a US-dollar denominated $1.5bn sovereign sukuk had
an orderbook comprising $10bn worth
of bids submitted by foreign investors,
having been more than 6-time oversubscribed. The huge demand for this
bond has prompted the Indonesian
government to come back with another
sukuk issue as early as in the first half of
Economists also point at a regulation that requires conventional banks
in Indonesia to separate their “Islamic
windows” – or Islamic banking units of
which there are more than 20 currently
in operation by domestic and foreign
conventional banks– into dedicated
standalone institutions by 2023 similar
to what the Qatar Central Bank asked
conventional banks in Qatar to do in
2012. It is expected that this regulation
will lead to a noticeable consolidation
among such “Islamic window” units in
the coming years in Indonesia.
Which way will Rajan go
with rates post-budget?
With the Indian economic data
before the union budget on
February 28 showing inflation
at a five-year low, Reserve Bank
of India Governor Raghuram
Rajan can perhaps indulge in
a belated celebration of his
birthday that fell on February
3 when he maintained the RBI
repo rate at which it lends to
commercial banks at 7.75%.
Rajan told the media that day :
“Monetary policy is a long-term
process. You can’t hold me
every 15 days saying when are
you cutting rates? We have a
budget coming up. Inflation
data also is yet to come.”
After a gap of nearly two years,
he had last cut the repo rate on
January 15.
He is currently said to be
wrestling with the changes in
the mode of computing the
latest set of economic data.
Data earlier this week showed
that wholesale price-index
(WPI) inflation decelerated
by 0.39% in January from an
increase of 5.11% in the same
month of last year. The WPIbased inflation had fallen to
0.11% last December.
However, the deceleration
in wholesale inflation comes
on the back of retail inflation
gaining momentum. The
consumer price index (CPI)based inflation in January stood
at 5.11% month-on-month.
The December retail inflation,
recalculated with the new base
year, was at 4.28%. It was at 5%
with 2010 as the base year.
Government statisticians,
however, had a bigger surprise
in calculating the GDP with a
new base year, which makes
it harder for Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley to assess the size
of the fiscal stimulus required
to help restore the economy.
Shifting the base year from
2004-05 to 2011-12, the Central
Statistical Office last week
estimated GDP growth during
2014-15 at 7.4% as compared
to 6.9% in 2013-14. It has also
revised the growth rate for the
first half of 2014-15 to 7.4% from
the 5.5% it had earlier reported
under the old method.
Commenting on data
procedures Rajan said last
month: “We may be reaching
the outskirts of the woods but
we are not out of the woods
yet. So I don’t think any data
that suggests we are out of the
woods at this point, we would
put too much weight on it.”
He said attaining the projected
inflation target of 6% by
January 2016 is at risk due to
expected “food price shocks as
the full effects of the monsoon’s
passage unfold and from
geo-political developments (oil
prices) that could materialise
He also turned the focus on
the forthcoming budget when
asked about the lack of a
forward guidance in the policy
“The guidance remains what
it was when we cut rates.
Further action will depend on
developments on the fiscal
front and on the disinflationary
process,” Rajan told reporters
With the 2015-16 budget widely
expected to boost capital
spending and offer tax breaks
to the manufacturing sector,
Jaitley has a headache in
controlling the fiscal deficit
because the tax revenue
earned by the central
government as a percentage of
the GDP has been falling over
the years.
Tax revenue in 2007-2008
stood at 11.9% of the GDP. By
2013-2014, it had fallen to 10%
of GDP and in 2014-2015 is
expected to fall further to 9.6%,
signifying the government’s
declining ability to service its
accumulated debt.
Then, there is the recent history
of many big nations like China,
Russia and Brazil which tried
full-throttle experiments in
stimulus spending - and failed.
Given that Rajan is against
reversing the direction he set
by cutting rates in January, is
he going to cut further post the
budget is the question analysts
are puzzled about.
The iconic building of United Overseas Bank’s headquarters in Jakarta. Conventional banks face consolidation among their
Islamic banking units within Indonesia’s new Islamic finance strategy.
in China
sales in ’14
Xiaomi Corp almost tripled
shipments to overtake
Samsung Electronics Co
as China’s top smartphone
vendor last year, according to
researcher IDC.
Xiaomi, founded in 2010,
captured 12.5% of the 421mn
units sold in China during
2014, up from a 5.3% share
the year earlier, IDC said
in a statement. Samsung
shipments slipped 22%, the
only decline among the
nation’s top five vendors, as
its share dropped to 12.1%,
it said.
Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun
has grown closely held Xiaomi
into a global top-three vendor
through a strategy of low costs
and targeted marketing of its
smartphones. While Lei has
invested in startups to build a
new category of devices, his
phones are limited mostly to
China and other parts of Asia.
“Xiaomi’s focus on selling
low-cost phones with decent
specifications, as well as the
hype that it created through its
flash sales, helped it to obtain
the top position,” IDC said.
While Lenovo Group’s
shipments climbed 13.7% in
China last year, it dropped
to third spot with 11.2%,
according to IDC. Huawei
Technologies Co and
Coolpad Group rounded
out the top five. Shipment
growth in China will probably
halve this year to about 10%,
from a 20% rise in 2014,
as a reduction in operator
subsidies weighs on demand.
In the fourth quarter, Apple
was second in China behind
Xiaomi. The maker of iPhones
wasn’t among the top five for
the entire year, according to
the IDC data.
Japan luxury goods sales booming
apan’s economy is hobbling out of a
recession, inflation is a quarter of the
central bank’s target and wages adjusted for price changes fell last year. And
yet sales of luxury goods are growing and
the stock market hit a 15-year high.
Sales of high-end imported cars and
luxury goods have been rising since
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in
December 2012, outpacing the increase
of total retail sales. Department stores
sold ¥333bn worth of luxury goods including watches, artworks and jewellery in 2014, up 20% from 2012. Over the
same period, total retail sales rose 2.6%.
There were 16,198 foreign-brand imported cars worth ¥10mn or more sold
in 2014, a 63% jump from 2012, according to the Japan Automobile Importers
Association .
Efforts to end two decades of stagnation with unprecedented stimulus has
driven up stocks. The 76% rise in the
Nikkei 225 Stock Average since the end
of 2012 increased the wealth of those
with financial assets. That historic rally
boosted the value of Japanese shares held
by households to ¥89.1tn as of the end of
September 2014, a 43% jump from the
end of 2012, according to the Bank of Japan.
The number of households with net fi-
nancial assets worth more than ¥100mn
($843,000) rose to 1mn in 2013 from
810,000 in 2011, a survey by Nomura Research Institute shows. The rise in stock
prices has made a large contribution to
the increase in the assets of the wealthy,
according to the institute.
The increase in sales of high-end goods
is also due to the surging numbers of foreign tourists, as the weaker yen has made
it cheaper for them to shop in Japan.
Over 13mn foreign visitors came in 2014
and spent ¥2tn, up from ¥1.1tn spent by
8.4mn tourists in 2012. More than #71bn
of that was spent on shopping, according
to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
The rise in luxury goods sales may be a
manifestation of a growing income gap in
Japan, which was expanding before Abenomics. The Gini coefficient, a gauge of a
country’s inequality, rose to 0.55 in 2011
from 0.47 in 1999, the most recent data
from the ministry of health, labour and
welfare show. Wages adjusted for price
changes fell in every month from July
2013 through December last year, as inflation and a sales-tax increase cut into
people’s purchasing power.
“The gap between the haves and the
have-nots has been widening under Abe
government’s reflation policies, ‘’ said
Koya Miyamae, an economist at SMBC
Nikko Securities Inc. “The surging sales
of luxury goods is one phenomenon
showing this widening income gap.’’
Shoppers at a shop selling luxury goods in Tokyo. Sales of high-end imported cars and luxury goods in Japan have been rising since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in
December 2012.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Real estate
stocks to
rally as
rates rise
RBI’s start-and-stop cuts
threaten bond fund flows
New York
nflows into Indian sovereign debt funds are seen
slowing by some money managers as traders
pare bets central bank governor Raghuram Rajan
will cut interest rates again soon.
LIC Nomura Mutual Fund Asset Management
and PNB Gilts say the allure of such funds could
fade as this month’s 11-basis point jump in one-year
interest rate swaps shows receding hopes for easing.
The so-called gilt plans took in Rs18.1bn ($291mn)
in January, a fifth month of inflows, data from the
Association of Mutual Funds in India show. That
was down from Rs20.9bn in December.
Rajan, who unexpectedly cut interest rates last
month, refrained from easing further at a February
3 review as he waits to see Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s first full-year budget on February 28. He also
flagged risks to India’s inflation from potentially
deficient monsoon rains, a rebound in oil prices and
volatility in global markets.
“From a sense of euphoria that rate cuts are going
to come thick and fast, there’s been a dampening
of spirits,” Killol Pandya, a Mumbai-based senior
fixed-income fund manager at LIC Nomura, which
manages Rs76.2bn, said in a February 18 phone interview. “Investors with a short-term view aren’t
really interested in investing” in gilt funds in the
long run, he said.
Money-market funds lured a net Rs858.5bn
in January, after witnessing withdrawals worth
Rs1.03tn in the previous two months, AMFI data
Governor Rajan cut the benchmark repurchase
rate by 25 basis points in an unscheduled move on
January 15, the first reduction since May 2013, as
plunging Brent crude prices helped restrict consumer inflation below the RBI’s 6% target. He held
the rate at 7.75% this month, highlighting the need
for the government to improve public finances in
Asia’s third-largest economy to sustain lower price
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has pledged to reduce the fiscal deficit to a seven-year low of 4.1%
of the gross domestic product in the year through
March 31. The shortfall breached the full-year target of Rs5.31tn in the nine months ended December,
official figures show.
“Key to further easing are data that confirm con-
four-month rally for housing-related stocks could
continue even as interest
rates rise and a lift by investors
covering bearish bets fades.
The SPDR Standard & Poor’s
Homebuilders Exchange-Traded
Fund has outpaced the SPDR S&P
500 ETF by 14 percentage points
since October 15, as the stockprice ratio has risen from a nearly
three-year low and is near the
highest since April 2014. During
the same period, short interest for
the housing ETF has fallen 56%
from a six-year peak.
The housing group, which also
includes retailers such as Home
Depot Inc and Bed, Bath & Beyond
Inc, closed at $36.44 on February
19, while the S&P 500 ETF was at
Faster income growth and more
credit availability could give “new
wind” to the housing market and
related stocks even amid higher
borrowing costs, said Brian Jacobsen, who helps oversee $241bn as
chief portfolio strategist in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, at Wells
Fargo Advantage Funds.
Personal income grew 4.6% in
December from a year earlier, the
fastest pace since 2012, based on
figures from the Commerce Department. The Federal Housing
Administration has made mortgages more affordable by lowering
insurance premiums on loans that
it backs.
In an effort to draw in first-time
homebuyers, Fannie Mae began
purchasing loans with down payments as low as 3% in December, a
drop from its previous floor of 5%.
Freddie Mac is preparing a similar
reduction beginning in March.
Amid signs the US economy
is improving, some investors are
betting it’s increasingly probable the Federal Reserve will raise
its benchmark rate by year-end.
While interest rates are an important driver of purchases of new
or existing residences, economic
growth and mortgage financing
also are critical to this industry,
Jacobsen said.
There also are indications of
stabilisation within housing.
Purchases of new homes in the
US increased 11.6% in December
from the prior month to a 481,000
annualised pace, the highest in
more than six years, according to
data from the Commerce Department. January figures are scheduled to be released on February 25.
The National Association of
Home Builders Market Index, at
55 in February, has stayed within
a 14-point range since mid-2013.
Readings above 50 indicate more
builders view conditions as good
rather than poor. The next report
is scheduled for release March 16.
The average fixed rate on a 30-year
mortgage – 3.89% on February 18
– fell as low as 3.36% in December
2012, according to Bankrate.com
data. Investors covering short positions – buying back previously
sold shares - contributed to the
relative outperformance of this
housing ETF, though this boost
may have “exhausted itself,” said
Matt Maley, an equity strategist
based in Newton, Massachusetts,
at Miller Tabak & Co That’s because bearish bets are near the
lowest level in about 10 months.
tinuing disinflationary pressures,” Rajan said in the
February 3 policy statement. “Also critical would be
sustained high quality fiscal consolidation,” he said,
suggesting that government spending needs to shift
away from social welfare programmes and subsidies
for food and fuel toward building roads, storage facilities and bridges.
“The RBI will keep a close eye on the budget,
which will reinforce the government’s commitment
to the fiscal consolidation roadmap,” analysts at
STCI Primary Dealer, including Bansi Madhavani in
Mumbai, wrote in a February 16 report.
Ten-year government notes are little changed in
February after rallying for the previous five months
as slowing inflation boosted the odds of monetary
easing. The yield on India’s 8.4% sovereign securities due July 2024, the current 10-year benchmark,
is 7.69% from 8.56% end-August. Indian bonds and
currency markets were shut on Thursday for a local
SBI Funds Management Pvt., a unit of India’s
largest lender, sees the rise in yields as short-lived
and expects demand for gilt funds to be sustained.
“Inflows are likely to continue on the back of easing expectations,” Rajeev Radhakrishnan, Mumbaibased head of fixed income at SBI Funds, which
manages Rs727.6bn, said in a February 18 phone
interview. “We are very positive on governmentbond investments and expect the yield to drop in
line with cuts in interest rates.”
Radhakrishnan forecasts a 75-basis point decrease in the repo rate by March 2016 and predicts
the 10-year yield to be 60 to 70 basis points lower
by then.
The cost to lock in borrowing costs for a year has
jumped 15 basis points to 7.63% since reaching a
July-2013 low on February 2, a day before the central bank policy review, showing that rate-cut bets
are receding. February’s 11-basis point increase has
put the one-year swaps on course for their biggest advance since January 2014, data compiled by
Bloomberg show.
The rupee has weakened 0.6% this month to
62.25 a dollar after climbing 1.9% in January.
“In the short-term, gilt-fund inflows may be impacted by investors’ re-assessment of the timing
and quantum of rate cuts,” Vijay Sharma, executive
vice president for fixed income at PNB Gilts in New
Delhi, said in a February 18 phone interview. “People are a bit cautious about the budget and its impact on the monetary policy.”
FPIs make a comeback in Indian markets on budget expectations
New Delhi
Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) became
net buyers in the Indian equities market for
the week ended on February 20 on the back
of high expectations from the upcoming
For the week ended on February 20, the
FPIs bought stocks worth Rs4,334.55 crore
or $697.6mn, according to data with the
National Securities Depository Limited
During the previous week ended on February
13, the FPIs had turned net sellers. They had
massively sold stocks worth Rs2,186.68 crore
or $387.35mn.
In the week ended on February 6, the FPIs
had bought stocks worth Rs4,701.86 crore or
The foreign institutional investors (FIIs) along
with sub-accounts and qualified foreign
investors have been clubbed together by
market regulator Securities and Exchange
Board of India (Sebi) to create a new investor
category called FPIs.
“Flows from FII’s have been on the positive
side & some small inflows from the DII’s as
well,” said Gaurang Shah, vice president,
Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.
Analysts said that positive wholesale price
index numbers, aggressive bidding for coal
blocks and strong quarterly performance of
largecaps like BHEL, TCS, HDFC, Sesa Sterlite,
Mahindra and Mahindra and ITC led FPIs to
stage a comeback.
India’s wholesale price inflation decelerated
by 0.39% in January from an increase of 5.11%
in the corresponding period of last fiscal.
The deceleration in inflation was attributed
to decline in fuel and power prices.
“The data points on the domestic front
were supportive both CPI (consumer price
index) and WPI (wholesale price index). The
concern was from the IIP (index of industrial
production) no’s which were lower than
estimate,” Shah said.
“The expectation on rate cut from the RBI is
building up in the month of March 2015 post
the clarity on fiscal situation in budget of the
government of India.”
Moreover the positive weekly gains of the
30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the S&P
Mumbai Stock Exchange (BSE) was attributed
to the FPIs infusing funds.
The BSE Sensex closed the weekly trade on
February 20 at 29,231.41; up by 136.48 or
0.47%. The broader markets outperformed
benchmarks with the BSE Midcap and
Smallcap indices rising 0.89% and 1.66%,
FPIs were also anxious about the resolution
on the Greek front.
“On the global markets the eurozone
has been in focus again due to the Greek
bailout plan. However, a large part of the
global participants feel that eventually an
agreement will be met,” Shah added.
The next major triggers for the FPIs interest
in the Indian markets will be the railway and
union budget.
Parliament will commence the budget
session on February 23. The railway budget
will be presented on February 26, which
will be followed by the economic survey
on February 27 and the union budget on
February 28.
The Bombay Stock Exchange. For the week ended on February 20, foreign portfolio investors bought Indian
stocks worth $697.6mn, according to government data.
Minutes from Fed meet leave FX traders wondering
New York
he minutes from the Federal Reserve’s
meeting last month have foreign-exchange traders wondering whether Janet
Yellen has joined the currency wars.
Policy makers pointed to the dollar’s rising
value as “a persistent source of restraint” on
exports in a surprisingly dovish set of minutes
published on Wednesday. The greenback fell
against a broad group of its peers.
Central bankers from Europe to Australia
have engaged this year in bouts of rate-cutting
oneupmanship, leaving the US, and possibly
Britain, as the only developed nations seen as
likely to raise borrowing costs in 2015. The dollar
climbed to its strongest in more than a decade
as a result, prompting billionaire Warren Buffett
and Goldman Sachs Group Inc President Gary
Cohn to question whether the Fed can now increase rates without damaging the US economy.
“The Fed is finding a very subtle way to temper the enthusiasm around the risks of a sustained dollar bull market that gets out of control,” said Alessio de Longis, a macro strategist
in New York at OppenheimerFunds Inc, whose
division oversees $11.6bn. “What the Fed is trying to decelerate a bit is this dollar appreciation
in order to make sure that the transition to a Fed
hiking policy is more gradual.” The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of performance
against the euro, yen, pound and seven other
major currencies, erased gains after the Fed released the account of its January 27-28 meeting.
The greenback’s gains this year added to a
13% jump in the second half of 2014 that was its
strongest advance since 2008, even as the US
economic recovery started to disappoint.
The Citi Economic Surprise Index shows US
economic data are falling short of expectations
by the most in more than two years.
Officials are inclined to keep rates near zero
for longer, with many participants saying a premature rate increase might damp the economic
recovery, the minutes show. Participants flagged
the ascendant dollar’s negative effect on net exports, with a few pointing to the risk the currency could appreciate further.
Mitigating those dangers are low energy
prices, which may have a greater-than-forecast
positive impact on growth, and accommodative
policy overseas that supports the international
outlook, the Fed said.
“The stronger dollar is de facto tightening,”
said Greg Peters, a senior investment officer at
Prudential Financial Inc’s fixed-income unit in
Newark, New Jersey, which oversees $534bn in
bonds. “It is doing much of the work for them
already,” he said, adding that a June increase is
not on the cards.
Central bankers from Australia to Canada to
Sweden are among those implementing monetary policies to boost growth. That stimulus
has weakened their exchange rates, which helps
make their economies more competitive, a
knock-on effect that analysts have called a currency war. The greenback has advanced at least
4% against each of its 16 major peers in the last
12 months. A trade-weighted index of the US
currency climbed to its highest since April 2009
last month. The Bloomberg Dollar index was at
1,164.34 as of 11:42 am in London, after reaching 1,174.87 on February 11, the strongest closing
level since its 2004 inception.
US companies are already feeling the pinch.
They’re having to learn to live with a dollar rally
that doesn’t necessarily reflect a stronger economy, Goldman Sachs’s Cohn said on February
10. Retail sales and durable goods orders have
weakened in recent months and multinationals,
including Procter & Gamble Co and DuPont Co,
are already seeing the strong currency weigh on
The currency’s strength makes it “very
tough” for the Fed to lift interest rates this year,
Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway
Inc, said this month.
That said, consumer spending accounts for
almost 70% of gross domestic product, while
exports comprise about 13%.
“While US multinationals’ profits may have
been hit, the vast majority of US firms are impacted only to a very limited extent,” Nicholas
Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign
Strategy in London, said by e-mail on February
16. “US policy makers are not particularly concerned about the dollar’s strength for the simple
reason that the US is a consumer-led economy.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
he Qatar Stock Exchange
(QSE) Index declined by 111.14
points, or 0.88%, during the
week, to close at 12,496.46. Market capitalisation fell by 0.61% to
reach QR677.6bn as compared to
QR681.8bn at the end of the previous week. Of the 43 listed companies, 17 ended the week higher,
while 24 fell and 2 remained unchanged. Medicare Group (MCGS)
was the best performing stock for
the week, with a gain of 7.1% on
0.6mn shares traded. On the other
hand, Gulf International Services
(GISS) was the worst performing
stock with a decline of 7.9% on
2.6mn shares traded; the stock is up
0.5% year-to-date (YTD).
GISS, Ezdan Holding Group (ERES)
and Qatar Islamic Bank (QIBK) were
the biggest contributors to the
weekly index decline. GISS was
the biggest contributor with 47.2
points to the index’s weekly fall of
111.2 points. ERES contributed 29.7
points, while QIBK contributed 20.9
points to the decline. On the other
hand, Qatar Insurance (QATI), QNB
Group (QNBK) and MCGS positively
contributed toward the QSE Index.
QATI added 81.9 points followed by
QNBK (30.5 points) and MCGS (8.9
Trading value during the week decreased by 33.1% to reach QR2.7bn
vs QR4.0bn in the prior week. The
banks and financial services sec-
tor led the trading value during the
week, accounting for 29.9% of the
total. The Industrials sector was the
second biggest contributor to the
overall trading value, accounting
for 24.4% of the total. GISS was the
top value traded stock during the
week with total of QR266.4mn.
Trading volume decreased by
52.5% to reach 63.3mn shares vs
133.4mn in the prior week. The
number of transactions fell by 28.8%
to reach 28,704 versus 40,292 in the
prior week. The real estate sector
led the trading volume, accounting
for 23.6%, followed by the telecoms
services sector, which accounted
for 20.2%. VFQS was the top volume
traded stock during the week with
total of 12.5mn shares.
Foreign institutions remained
bullish during the week with net
buying of QR28.8mn vs net buying of QR35.9mn in the prior week.
Qatari institutions remained bearish with net selling of QR14.4mn vs
net selling of QR121.5mn the week
before. Foreign retail investors remained bullish for the week with
net buying of QR43.2mn vs net buying of QR55.8mn in the prior week.
Qatari retail investors turned bearish with net selling of QR57.6mn vs
net buying of QR29.9mn the week
In 2015 YTD, foreign institutions
sold (on a net basis) $17mn worth of
Qatari equities.
QSE Index and Volume
Weekly Market Report
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
Weekly Index Performance
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
Source: Bloomberg
Source: Qatar Exchange (QE)
This report expresses the views and opinions of Qatar National Bank Financial Services SPC (“QNBFS”)
at a given time only. It is not an offer, promotion or recommendation to buy or sell securities or other
investments, nor is it intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. We therefore strongly
advise potential investors to seek independent professional advice before making any investment decision.
Although the information in this report has been obtained from sources that QNBFS believes to be reliable,
we have not independently verified such information and it may not be accurate or complete. Gulf Times and
QNBFS hereby disclaim any responsibility or any direct or indirect claim resulting from using this report.
Qatar Stock Exchange
Top Five Gainers
Top Five Decliners
Most Active Shares by Value (QR Million)
Most Active Shares by Volume (Million)
Investor Trading Percentage to Total Value Traded
Net Traded Value by Nationality (QR Million)
Source: Bloomberg
Technical analysis of the QSE index
he QSE Index ended the week at
12,496.46 and lost 0.88% from
last week’s close. The Index created a Bearish Engulfing candlestick
for the week, which signifies buyers’
weakness specifically after the indecision that the Doji candlestick created the week before. The good news
is that the drop was coupled with low
volumes compared to the week before.
However, that does not indicate an
upwards reversal in the coming week.
Technical indicators are flat but giving
more bearish signs as the Index could
not break above the 55SMA or the
21SMA. The index faces tough resistance at the 12,800 level while the expected support lies at the 12,000 level.
Definitions of key terms used in technical analysis
andlestick chart – A candlestick
chart is a price chart that displays
the high, low, open, and close for a
security. The ‘body’ of the chart is portion between the open and close price,
while the high and low intraday movements form the ‘shadow’. The candlestick may represent any time frame. We
use a one-day candlestick chart (every
candlestick represents one trading day)
in our analysis.
Doji candlestick pattern – A Doji candlestick is formed when a security’s
open and close are practically equal.
The pattern indicates indecisiveness,
and based on preceding price actions
and future confirmation, may indicate a
bullish or bearish trend reversal.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Currency war feeds boom
in Denmark’s property
prices amid extreme rates
even years after Denmark’s property
bubble burst, house prices in the
country’s biggest cities are already
higher than at any point in recorded history. Meanwhile, banks are trying to figure
out how to navigate their way through the
first auctions that will probably result in
investors paying homeowners to borrow.
These are the clearest signs that efforts
to defend Denmark’s euro peg with an
unprecedented injection of cheap money
may be distorting some corners of the
economy. The central bank’s benchmark
deposit rate is minus 0.75% after four cuts
this year. Yields on government bonds
are negative for maturities as long as five
years. Mortgage-bond yields trade below
zero for maturities up to three years.
“Perhaps it’s okay to have negative
rates, but there are a lot of other problems that derive from that,” Sune Worm
Mortensen, a director in charge of residential mortgage strategy at Nykredit Realkredit A/S, said in an interview.
In the leafy Copenhagen district of Frederiksberg, an average 140 square-metre
(1,500 square-foot) house costs 1.8mn
kroner ($275,000) more today than it did
in 2009, according to Nybolig, a unit of
Nykredit. That’s about 676,000 kroner
more than at the height of Denmark’s real
estate boom, which topped in 2007 and
burst a year later. House prices plunged
about 20% from their peak through to
their 2013 trough, triggering a community
bank crisis and sending the economy into
a recession.
Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority is “continually monitoring the
development of house prices,” Director
General Ulrik Noedgaard said in an emailed response to questions.
Danes are now about to benefit directly from the record-low rates. Mortgage banks estimate short-term bonds
for about 170bn kroner will be refinanced
in auctions starting in the final week of
February. According to Nordea Bank,
about 95bn kroner of that will be in oneyear loans, for which bonds already trade
at negative yields.“It’s going to be one of
the most interesting auctions in a very
long time due to the krone crisis,” Anders
Aalund, chief analyst at Nordea Markets
in Copenhagen, said by phone.
Realkredit Danmark’s 1% mortgage
bond due April 2016 traded at about mi-
Pedestrians gather around a water fountain in a square surrounded by commercial and residential buildings in central Copenhagen,
Denmark. House prices in Denmark plunged about 20% from their peak through to their 2013 trough, triggering a community bank
crisis and sending the economy into a recession.
nus 0.6% on Friday, according to data
compiled by Bloomberg. Its yield has been
below zero since the end of January.
“Nykredit and Nordea have stopped
offering these loans and the overall issuance is low, so liquidity has been very
limited,” Aalund said yesterday. “That
means the auction prices are very difficult
to predict.”Nordea Kredit, the mortgage
unit of Nordea Bank, said it will again start
selling loans backed by three-year bonds.
It had withdrawn the product earlier this
month after yields went negative. The
bank won’t resume sales of loans backed
by one-year bonds.
Borrowers will still end up paying their
banks for the loans even at negative interest rates, due to the fees imposed to process the mortgages. Interest rates probably
won’t go far enough below zero for borrowers to earn money on their loans, Lise
Bergmann, Nordea’s housing economist,
said. Borrowers’ rates on one-year bonds
may fall as low as minus 0.25% in the refinancing auctions, according to Christian Heinig, chief economist at Realkredit
Danmark, the mortgage unit of Danske
Bank. That includes a refinancing fee.
Distortions in the housing market shed
some light on the tight-rope act central
bank Governor Lars Rohde needs to pull off.
Since the Swiss National Bank abandoned
its ties to the euro on January 15, Rohde has
fought back speculators betting Denmark
will be next to jettison its three-decadesold currency peg. That’s forced him to unleash an historic wave of measures to deter
investors from holding krone assets, including suspending government bond sales.
To continue defending the peg, the
central bank is “not ruling anything out,”
spokesman Karsten Biltoft told Bloomberg. Rohde said earlier this month there’s
no limit to how low rates can be cut or how
high foreign reserves can rise to save Denmark’s currency regime.
The extreme measures are playing
havoc with the accounts of Denmark’s financial institutions, which pay the central
bank to hold their deposits. So far, only
corporate lender FIH Erhvervsbank has
decided to pass on that cost to its clients.
Danske Bank, the country’s biggest lender, says it will probably wait at least a year
before deciding whether to do the same
with retail customers. Chief Executive Officer Thomas F Borgen said in an interview
earlier this month he’s girding for negative
rates lasting as long as two years.
While savers are being pummelled, the
rewards borrowers stand to reap are being
curtailed by some mortgage banks, which
aren’t prepared to go ahead with issuance
at negative rates.
Nykredit and Nordea say it makes no
sense to offer new loans backed by bonds
with negative rates, while Realkredit Danmark, the mortgage unit of Danske Bank,
says it will continue issuance.
The FSA has already adopted measures
to prevent bubbles in the housing market,
with many of the new rules addressing
shortcomings perceived to have fanned
Denmark’s most recent housing collapse. Part of that framework is a requirement that home buyers provide a minimum deposit of 5% of a property’s value,
Noedgaard said.
Traders signal
UK poll to jolt
calm in equities
raders are signalling
that the record calm in
the UK’s main stock index is about to be upended.
While elections to decide
Britain’s next ruling party
aren’t until May 7, the outcome is still in enough doubt
that options prices show
FTSE 100 Index volatility
will likely soar from its record
low against that of European
Banks, transport companies
and state contractors including Serco Group may be vulnerable, SVM Asset Management’s Colin McLean says.
Nomura Holdings sees risks in
real estate, utilities and homebuilders. Societe Generale advised staying away from the
country’s equities altogether.
“It’s hard to calculate,” said
McLean, founder and chief
executive officer of SVM Asset
Management in Edinburgh.
His firm oversees more than
$800mn. “It will create a lot of
uncertainty, not only on taxes
but particularly with the UK
pushing its agenda to withdraw, and Scottish independence potentially coming up
With the FTSE 100 near a
record high, politics may once
again overshadow a rebound
that has given UK stocks one
of the decade’s best starts to
the year. Investors have seen
this before: Concern over
Scotland’s independence vote
in September ignited a 56%
surge in volatility in less than
two weeks.
A Conservative-led government may trigger a split from
the European Union, with
Prime Minister David Cameron promising a national vote
by 2017.
A Labour-led one might
clash with businesses by
freezing energy prices and reversing a corporate- tax cut
plan. Labour has also proposed breaking up the country’s biggest lenders.
And then there’s the UK
Independence Party, which
champions anti-immigration
and anti-EU policies.
Opinion polls show Labour
ahead, albeit mostly within
the margin of error. Betting
odds signal a coalition between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats most likely.
Implied volatility, a measure of expectations for stock
swings, was 2.6 points higher
for three-month FTSE 100
options than one-month contracts on February 19, data
compiled by Bloomberg show.
That gap has widened since
holding near zero for most of
The UK remains the most
disliked market in the world, a
Bank of America Corp survey
of fund managers showed this
week. Some 42% of respondents said they will hold fewer
UK stocks than represented
in global benchmarks in the
next 12 months, compared
with 17% in January, the bank
Even with the FTSE 100
closing 0.6% away from an
all-time high, its 4.9% gain
this year is less than half that
of the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. On February 17, the UK
gauge ended the day at its
highest level since December
1999, when it hit a record.
Both Tory and Labour policies will probably end up more
“market friendly in practice
than they appear on paper,”
and most uncertainty is priced
in, Goldman Sachs Group said
in a note.
And there are pockets of
value: Industrial stocks including
maker RPC Group have yet
to benefit from low oil prices, while the weaker pound
against the dollar will help
British exporters, says George
Godber of Miton Group.
“We’re not finding any
shortage of ideas in the UK,”
said Godber, who helps manage about $5bn at Miton in
London. “What had been a
huge currency headwind has
certainly become more of a
tailwind. The UK still has the
perception of relative stability.”
The British economy will
expand 2.6% this year, economists estimate. That’s more
than double the forecast rate
of growth for the euro area.
The FTSE 100 isn’t safe
from bouts of investor panic.
Oil, metal prices drift lower as markets await Greek outcome
Crude oil and metal prices drifted
lower last week as markets took their
cue from supply and demand patterns
as well as uncertainty over Greece’s
eurozone future.
Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem
was working overtime Friday to save
a make-or-break meeting on Greece’s
demand to ease its bailout programme
as Germany insisted it stick with its
austerity commitments.
After days of sharp exchanges, the 19
eurozone finance ministers gathered
for the third time in little over a week
to consider Athens’ take-it or leaveit proposal to extend an EU loan
programme which expires this month.
Time is pressing to find a solution
before the current bailout programme
ends this month, for fear that failure
could see Greece run out of money
and forced out of the eurozone within
“Thinking about the impact on
commodities, the initial turmoil
caused by ‘Grexit’ would surely boost
safe-haven demand for gold while
undermining the prices of assets
perceived to be riskier, including oil and
industrial metals,” Capital Economics
research group said in a note to clients.
OIL: Prices slipped as news of recordhigh US crude stockpiles offset weak
Libyan supplies.
Traders sold off crude on Wednesday
on forecasts of a huge jump in US
inventories. They extended the losses
Thursday after the Energy Information
Administration confirmed a weekly
surge in US commercial crude
stockpiles to levels not seen since
records began in 1982.
Tony Nunan, risk manager at Japanese
trading house Mitsubishi Corp, said
that although the increase was above
market expectations, “the gain was a
lot smaller than the number announced
Wednesday by the (private) American
Petroleum Institute in its weekly
He added: “Traders are watching when
the gap between oil production and
(demand) will narrow.”
Crude prices lost around 60% of their
value to about $40 between June and
late January owing to an oversupply in
world markets, a weak global economy
and a strong dollar that made oil
expensive to purchase for holders of
rival currencies.
And while they have been climbing in
recent weeks on news that the number
of US oil rigs in operation has fallen
and energy giants are cutting back
on investment, markets-watchers say
volatility is likely to continue for some
Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group said
that largely offline supply in Libya was
also supporting oil prices.
Infighting and sabotage in Libya has
reduced output to 150,000 bpd, down
from a high of almost 1.5mn bpd, he
Flynn said the beheading of Christians
in Libya by militants affiliated with
the Islamic State group showed the
threat from the Islamist extremists is
“Risk premium in oil may start to come
back and the glut of oil may tighten
faster than many people think,” he
Meanwhile booming US output
from shale rock, which helped spark
slumping oil prices, will continue over
the next 20 years but start to slow,
increasing demand for Opec crude, BP
forecast Tuesday.
The British energy giant revealed its
verdict in an annual global Energy
Outlook report which covers the period
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental
Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for
delivery in April fell to $60.69 a barrel
from $61.19 a week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange,
Crude prices lost around 60% of their value to about $40 between June and late January owing to an oversupply in world
markets, a weak global economy and a strong dollar that made oil expensive to purchase for holders of rival currencies.
West Texas Intermediate or light sweet
crude for March dropped to $51.16 a
barrel from $52.70.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold fell over the
week despite winning support from the
Greek situation and minutes from the
Federal Reserve’s January meeting that
portrayed a central bank more dovish
on interest rates than thought, traders
The record of the January 27-28 policy
meeting showed the Fed policymakers
inclined to wait longer to begin hiking
interest rates.
By Friday on the London Bullion
Market, the price of gold dropped to
$1,208.25 an ounce from $1,235.50 a
week earlier. Silver slipped to $16.34 an
ounce from $16.80.
On the London Platinum and Palladium
Market, platinum decreased to $1,166
an ounce from $1,201.
Palladium dipped to $783 from $786 an
BASE METALS: Base or industrial metal
prices mostly retreated in quiet trade
owing to the Lunar New Year, while
Greece weighed also.
“The market will be keen to gauge the
mood in which Chinese participants
return to work later this month,” said
analysts at Unicredit.
“The other big issue is Greece. The
market perception is that the possibility
of a Greek exit from the eurozone has
been brought much closer by recent
events and if this outcome materialises
it has the potential to cause chaos
across financial markets.
As a result, risk appetite has been
By Friday on the London Metal
Exchange, copper for delivery in three
months fell to $5,679 a tonne from
$5,717.50 a week earlier.
Three-month aluminium slipped to
$1,810.50 a tonne from $1,847.
Three-month lead dropped to $1,776.50
a tonne from $1,840.
Three-month tin grew to $17,880 a
tonne from $17,445.
Three-month nickel declined to $14,130
a tonne from $14,710.
Three-month zinc slid to $2,058 a tonne
from $2,105.
COCOA: Prices extended gains on tight
supply concerns in West Africa, hitting
four-month highs in New York at $3,028
a tonne.
“Prices were higher again as hot and
dry Harmattan winds affected West
Africa,” said Jack Scoville, analyst at
Price Futures Group.
The dry Harmattan wind—a dry breeze
packed with dust which blows across
West Africa from the Sahara—has
blown away leaves and flowers which
develop into cocoa fruits.
West Africa’s Ghana and Ivory Coast
are the two biggest producers of the
commodity that is used mainly to make
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures
exchange, cocoa for delivery in May
stood at £2,007 a tonne compared with
£1,970 for the July contract a week
On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa
for May climbed to $2,987 a tonne from
$2,930 the previous week.
SUGAR: Prices retreated on profittaking, according to Scoville.
By Friday on LIFFE, a tonne of white
sugar for delivery in May dipped to
$388 from $391.40.
On ICE Futures US, unrefined sugar for
May dropped to 14.67 US cents a pound
from 14.84 US cents.
COFFEE: Prices dropped with support
coming from rainfall in major producer
“Further rains across key growing
areas of Brazil and the highest January
production in Colombia since 2008
have helped push the price of Arabica
coffee to its lowest level in a year,”
Capital Economics said.
By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for
delivery in May slid to 153.80 US cents a
pound from 166.15 cents a week earlier.
On LIFFE, Robusta for May eased to
$1,989 a tonne from $2,022.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Opportunities for GCC petchem industry to tackle challenges
By Hassan al-Rashid
I started my career in the late 1980s as a
young engineer wanting to learn, improve
and immerse into the new world of the
“engineered jungle” widely spread in the
industrial cities.
It was amazing to see the whole facilities being well-managed and operated by
a pool of skilled dedicated resources and
controlled on a 24x7 basis from a small
area called a ‘control room’.
I consider as very fortunate to witness
and to be a part of such great industrial
development in our region, starting from
my beloved country Qatar, and spreading
and growing in the GCC.
Retrospectively, I believe that the
decision-makers made some bold and
timely decisions in the last two decades,
which enabled these countries with diverse source of sustained revenues, social
enlightenment, entrepreneurial success,
economic growth and global positioning.
Also, some of the other leading factors
for successful market leadership in the
region’s petrochemical industry are given
1- Advantageous feedstock: The
privileged access to natural resources and
advantaged feedstock, which forms the
basis for success of our petrochemical
2- Mega, integrated and diverse world
class project configuration: The mega
projects geographically spread out but
closely integrated with feedstock sources,
wise and prudent project configurations
and successive value additions through
horizontal or vertical integrations in our
entire region to produce an intermediate
product and/or the semi and final finished
products. Such products are required in
all our daily routines for all ages and these
include plastics or plastic products, fertilisers, pharmaceutical, chemicals, medicines,
cosmetics, furniture, etc.
3- An excellent result as far as the cost,
revenue growth, rapid corporate expansion, and margin advantages, as well as
the export is concerned, which nearly represents almost 45% of the non-oil export.
Most of these exports (representing about
80%) go outside the region.
Also, the total regional production
account for 15% of the world production, which is equivalent to the capacity
of 140.5mn tonnes in 2013. Last but not
the least, the profitable revenues that hit
$89.4bn in the same year.
However, following two decades of
successful growth and expansions of
chemicals and petrochemical industry in
the GCC, I am now observing a greater
conservative approach by national oil
companies (NOCs) and international oil
companies (IOCs) with regard to any new
investments in greenfield petrochemical projects in the GCC region. These
behavioural changes may be due to
multiple challenges, which the investors
or NOCs are facing because of the following reasons:
1- Shale gas development in North
America: Shale gas success story, which
further has huge growth potential presented new opportunities for the US petrochemical players due to plentiful supply
availability of advantageous feedstock at
lower and competitive prices. Additionally, there is potential for shale gas developments in the EU and China in future.
2-China’s continued support for coalbased developments: China has ambitious
plans to convert coal to olefins and are
expeditiously working on innovating the
best technologies including for capturing
the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
3-Market volatility and lower price of
crude oil and gas resources are creating
greater pressure on the NOCs or IOCs
expenditure plans.
4- Low availability of advantageous
feedstock in the GCC: The big players in
our region established the industry due to
gas-based crackers or based on advantageous feedstock like ethane. However, the
region has reached its peak for supply of
such advantageous feedstock and now
the new ventures or projects are facing
growing gas shortage. Further, the natural
gas availability is also tightened due to
the increasing demand of power as an
offshoot of fast urban economic growth.
Nevertheless, the GCC petrochemical
players have some clear choices on how
to respond to these competitive challenges and threats as well as to keep the
petrochemical industries robust and sustainably competitive through a number
of strategic options, both upstream and
downstream in the industry’s business
value chain.
These are:
1. Strength and weakness analysis:
Conduct an honest assessment of where
their current strengths lie along with areas
in which they can make the most immediate and dramatic improvements, and then
select the strategic response that provides
the best match.
2.On order to avoid facing high break
even prices, the petrochemical industries
have to go through the continuous organisation restructuring assessments.
3.Shifting the focus from fixed costs
(such as labour) to variable costs, the
much larger portion of the cost base
throughout the improvements achieved in
energy efficiency, yield improvement, especially because in petrochemicals, these
not only reduce cost but also increase
production volumes without consuming
more feedstock.
4.To increase the margin, by developing and optimising the existing industries
to cope with a friendly environment foot
prints, production cost and in operating efficiently. Now is the time for the producers
to ask a different question: “How much
margin could we make if we optimised all
our costs and operations?”
5.Optimised growth through synergies,
integrations and competitive developments or expansions including vertical
integration with the domestic refineries if
the strategy to go for a mixed feed or an
aromatic options,
Also, extend downstream into performance and specialities chemicals and
products, as this option entails expanding
the current product portfolio away from
basic chemicals.
To succeed, petrochemical players will
need to diversify their business models
to reflect on different market positions
US oil workers’ union expands
biggest plant strike since 1980
San Francisco
he United Steelworkers, which
represents 30,000 US oil workers, called on four more plants
to join the biggest strike since 1980 as
talks with Royal Dutch Shell, negotiating a labour contract for oil companies,
dragged on.
The USW, with members at more
than 200 refineries, fuel terminals,
pipelines and chemical plants across
the US, asked workers at Motiva Enterprises’ plants in Texas and Louisiana
to join a nationwide walkout. The work
stoppage began on February 1 with
workers leaving nine plants from California to Texas, and expanded to two BP
refineries in the Midwest a week later.
The union has rejected seven contract
offers from Shell, which is representing companies including Exxon Mobil
Corp and Chevron Corp.
An agreement would end a strike at US
plants that account for almost 20% of the
country’s refining capacity. It’s the first
national walkout of US oil workers since
1980, when a work stoppage lasted three
months. The USW represents workers at
plants that together account for 64% of
US fuel output.
“The industry’s refusal to meaningfully address safety issues through
good faith bargaining gave us no other
option but to expand our work stoppage,” said USW International President Leo W Gerard in a statement.
Earlier, Ray Fisher, a spokesman for
The Hague, Netherlands-based Shell,
said in an e-mail that discussions ended Friday without an agreement being
The USW has been asking for tougher measures to prevent fatigue and to
keep union workers rather than contract employees on the job, statements
posted on the group’s website show.
fter a holiday-shortened trading week that pinned stocks in a
tight trading range, equities are
poised for a bout of renewed volatility
as investors watch the economy and
the Federal Reserve for signs of policy
changes and economic strength.
Through Thursday’s close, the S&P
500 was held to its narrowest trading
week since Thanksgiving as investors
dealt with uncertainty regarding a forward path for the economy and a deal
for Greek debt.
Late on Friday, the European Union
agreed to a four-month extension for
Greece, and a late rally pushed the S&P
500 above technical resistance level of
2,100 after several failed attempts earlier in the week.
The index was up modestly for the
week, building on a 5-percent gain
over the prior two weeks. “The market
Hassan al-Rashid is a Qatari engineer with
decades of professional experience in
Qatar’s petrochemical industry. The views
expressed are his own.
as Greece
A partially unloaded Hyundai container ship sits docked at the Port of Los Angeles. The United Steelworkers, which represents 30,000 US oil workers, called on four
more plants to join the biggest strike since 1980 as talks with Royal Dutch Shell, negotiating a labour contract for oil companies, dragged on.
The union said on Thursday that Shell’s
seventh offer failed to address safety
concerns “in any sort of meaningful or
enforceable way” and instructed members to prepare to join the strike “if
called upon.”
The union previously called strikes
at: Tesoro Corp’s plants in Martinez
and Carson, California, and Anacortes,
Washington; Marathon Petroleum
Corp’s Catlettsburg complex in Kentucky and Galveston Bay site in Texas;
Shell’s Deer Park complex; LyondellBasell Industries NV’s Houston facil-
ity; and BP’s Whiting and Toledo refineries in the Midwest.
The latest sites are Motiva’s Port
Arthur refinery in Texas, the nation’s
largest, and plants in Convent and Norco, Louisiana. Shell’s chemical facility
in Norco was also called out on strike.
Motiva is a joint venture between Shell
and Saudi Arabian Oil Co.
More than 5,200 workers have
walked out, USW statements show.
Tesoro said earlier this month that
its plants could run for a “very long period” during the walkout. The San An-
tonio- based refiner, which owns the
most capacity in the western US, halted
all fuel production at its Northern California refinery after workers walked
out. United Steelworkers members
operate refinery units, perform maintenance and work in labs at the plants.
The USW and Shell began negotiations on January 21 amid the biggest
collapse in oil prices since 2008, driven
largely by surging output from US shale
formations that cut oil prices by 49%
in the second half of 2014.
Refiners in the Standard & Poor’s
500 have tripled in value since the beginning of 2012, when the steelworkers
last negotiated an agreement. Marathon and Tesoro went on that year to
take their place among the 10 best performers in the S&P 500 Index.
The national agreement, which addresses wages, benefits and health and
safety, serves as the pattern that companies use to negotiate local contracts.
Individual USW units may still decide
to strike if the terms they’re offered locally don’t mirror those in the national
After tight trading, volatility to return on Wall St
New York
and value propositions for each customer
6. Focus on international growth:
Explore opportunities in the US to take
advantage of cheap shale gas and in
negotiating on few greenfield projects.
Also, penetrate through new joint venture
opportunities in big markets such as China
or other emerging economies.
7. While most olefins (e.g., ethylene
and propylene) are currently produced
through steam cracking routes, they can
also possibly be produced from natural
gas (i.e., methane) via methanol and oxidative coupling routes. Although the natural
gas is one that consists primarily methane,
most of the methane is used as a fuel in
most of the industries.
8.Self-reliance through social skill
development: Focus on workforce development and talent management. The
companies must cope meeting qualified
graduates and experienced candidates in
the workforce.
This can be achieved by developing and
expanding technical or corporate oriented
schools, the technical and vocational
training centres in the new university
complexes that can create more local talent and assets.
has done quite well this week holding
things together,” said Frank Cappelleri,
technical market analyst and trader at
Instinet in New York.
“You have a holiday-shortened
week, you have low volume, you have
people probably taking a step back and
deciding what we have here – do we
push higher at this point, or do we need
some of the extended areas pull back to
a greater degree?”
With worries about Greece taking a
backseat, traders next week could focus
on the slew of expected economic data,
including several reports on the housing market, consumer confidence, the
consumer price index and the preliminary fourth-quarter reading on gross
domestic product.
The data will give investors fuel to
speculate on the timing and speed of
an interest rate hike by the US Federal
Reserve, after minutes from the central
bank’s January diminished expectations for a June move on rates.
On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen gives semiannual testimony on the economy and monetary
policy before the Senate Banking Committee.
“In the near-term, the Fed is pretty much out of the picture. If you
look at what they said (in the minutes), they are in no big hurry to raise
interest rates,” said Jeffrey Saut,
chief investment strategist at Raymond James Financial in St Petersburg, Florida.
“I do believe Janet Yellen at her word.
They are going to be data-dependent.
While we have had some softening, the
general trend of the recovery is still intact.”
Retailers will also garner some attention as earnings season winds down,
and investors look for signs consumers have increased spending with cash
saved from lower gas prices. Macy’s ,
Dow component Home Depot, Target,
Lowe’s Companies and Gap Inc are
among the notable names scheduled to
post results next week.
Wall Street equities are poised for a bout of renewed volatility as investors watch
the economy and the Federal Reserve for signs of policy changes and economic
reek Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras declared
victory yesterday after
agreeing a last-minute conditional financial rescue deal with
Europe, despite making big concessions to avert financial collapse within days.
With his left-wing leadership
pilloried by German conservatives, Tsipras insisted defiantly
that Friday night’s agreement
cancelled austerity commitments and dispensed with the
“troika” – European and IMF
inspectors loathed by many
“Yesterday we took a decisive step, leaving austerity, the
bailouts and the troika behind,”
he said in a televised statement
to the Greek nation. “We won a
battle, not the war. The difficulties, the real difficulties ... are
ahead of us.”
After often ill-tempered negotiations in Brussels, Greece
secured a four-month extension to eurozone funding, which
will avert bankruptcy and a euro
exit, provided it comes up with
promises of economic reforms
by Monday.
Had no deal been reached,
some officials had feared panic
when Greek banks reopened on
Tuesday after a long holiday
But Athens said agreement at
the meeting of euro zone finance
ministers should calm Greek
savers who thought capital controls might be imposed as a prelude to leaving the euro.
A source at the European Central Bank also ruled out restrictions on savers’ right to withdraw their deposits, aiming to
dismiss expectations that – as
eurozone member Ireland put
it – the Greek banking system
might have gone “belly up”.
Tsipras and his Syriza party
won power last month on promises to end Greece’s EU/IMF
bailout programme and cooperation with the “troika” – European Commission, ECB and
IMF officials who have monitored Greece’s compliance with
its austerity and reform commitments.
However, Athens has been
forced to accept a conditional
extension of the bailout at the
insistence of Eurogroup members led by Germany.
It must also still deal with the
troika, albeit renamed in the
Brussels agreement as “the three
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May 2 date set
for Pacquiao v
fight in Vegas
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Jumada I 3, 1436 AH
by Malaga
It’s India’s batting vs
South Africa’s
bowling, says Kohli
Page 2
I’ve never seen a
coward captain like
Misbah, says Akhtar
West Indies batsman Andre Russell lashes at a ball bowled by Wahab Riaz (L) during their World Cup match in Christchurch yesterday.
Windies win big to
extend Pak woes
ormer paceman Shoaib
Akhtar labelled captain
Misbah-ul-Haq “a coward”
and “a selfish player” after
Pakistan were crushed by 150 runs by
West Indies in the World Cup yesterday.
“I have not seen a more coward
and selfish captain than Misbah,”
the 39-year-old Akhtar told the Geo
News TV channel. “He is not willing to bat up the order to protect the
other players at a time when he needs
to show inspiration.
“He is happy with his own runs
and I don’t know what coach Waqar
Younis wants. He has no game plan
or direction for the team,” added the
man known as the Rawalpindi Express, who won 46 Test caps and
played in 163 one-day internationals.
Misbah, 40, has been a successful test captain since taking charge
in 2010 and has also led the one-day
squad since 2011.
He batted at number five against
West Indies in Christchurch on Saturday but made only seven as Pakistan were bowled out for 160 to slump
to their second straight defeat in the
Former Test captain Ramiz Raja
also believes it is time for senior batsman Younus Khan to step down after
failing in the opening two World Cup
“I beg of Younus. Thank you for
your services to Pakistan cricket but
please leave this ODI side now,” said
“I think Younus should tell the
management he should be rested.
Our fielding has also been a joke but
we need just one good match to get
back on the winning track.”
Another former captain Mohammad Yousuf called for wholesale
changes to be made after the World
“The problems ailing our cricket
will not go away unless we produce
better batsmen and the management
is reshuffled,” Yousuf said.
Former Test spinner Saqlain Mushtaq was also scathing in his criticism.
“We went to pieces against a West
Indies side hit by internal issues so
what can we expect from this team in
the remaining games?,” said Saqlain.
Russell smashes 42 from 13 balls, declared man of the match
West Indies
D. Smith c Haris Sohail b Sohail Khan 23
C. Gayle c Riaz b Irfan 4
D. Bravo rtd hurt 49
M. Samuels c sub (Yasir Shah) b Haris Sohail 38
D. Ramdin c sub (Yasir Shah) b Haris Sohail 51
L. Simmons run out (UmarAkmal) 50
D. Sammy c Afridi b Riaz 30
A. Russell not out 42
Extras (b2, lb6, w14, nb1) 23
Total (6 wkts, 50 overs) 310
Did not bat: J Holder, J Taylor, S Benn
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Gayle), 2-28 (Smith), 3-103 (Samuels), 3-152 (Bravo retired hurt), 4-194 (Ramdin), 5-259
(Sammy), 6-310 (Simmons)
Bowling: Irfan 10-0-44-1 (1w); Sohail Khan 10-1-73-1
(1nb); Afridi 10-0-48-0 (1w); Haris Sohail 9-0-62-2; Riaz
10-0-67-1 (4w); Sohaib Maqsood 1-0-8-0;
Nasir Jamshed c Russell b Taylor 0
Ahmed Shehzad c Simmons b Holder 1
Younis Khan c Ramdin b Taylor 0
Haris Sohail c sub (Carter) b Taylor 0
Misbah-ul-Haq c Gayle b Russell 7
Sohaib Maqsood c Benn b Sammy 50
Umar Akmal c Smith b Russell 59
Shahid Afridi c Holder b Benn 28
Wahab Riaz c Ramdin b Russell 3
Sohail Khan c Ramdin b Benn 1
Mohammad Irfan not out 2
Extras (lb3, w5, nb1) 9
Total (all out, 39 overs) 160
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Jamshed), 2-1 (Younis), 3-1 (Haris
Sohail), 4-1 (Ahmed Shehzad), 5-25 (Misbah), 6-105
(Sohaib Maqsood), 7-139 (Umar Akmal), 8-155 (Riaz),
9-157 (Afridi), 10-160 (Sohail Khan)
Bowling: Taylor 7-1-15-3 (2w); Holder 7-2-23-1 (1w);
Russell 8-2-33-3 (2w); Sammy 8-0-47-1; Benn 9-0-39-2
Result: West Indies won by 150 runs
Toss: Pakistan
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Nigel Llong(ENG)
By Vic Marks
The Guardian
ere was another horribly lop-sided contest not involving an associate side. The cricketing chameleon that is
the West Indies thrashed Pakistan by 150 runs. It was
another bewildering contest, which saw Pakistan reduced to 4/1 in their response to 6/310.
The West Indies may have been playing some profligate cricket
recently. But they could not squander that sort of advantage. It
is tough to predict what happens next in this tournament, which
makes it exciting; all that is required now in this is a close game
or two. Maybe that will come in Christchurch when England and
Scotland meet.
West Indies’ victory does not appear to suit Ireland greatly;
mathematically they might have preferred a Pakistan win. However the Irish might be thinking more optimistically than mathematically. After all, Ireland beat the West Indies almost at a
canter in Nelson; the West Indies beat Pakistan even more easily.
Therefore Ireland may well be very confident that they can beat
Pakistan in the final fixture in this pool at Adelaide on 15 March.
For the second time West Indies exceeded 300. They did so in
a peculiar manner. Their highest scorer was Denesh Ramdin with
51; Darren Bravo might have scored more but was forced to retire
with a torn left hamstring. Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy
combined effectively again but the mesmerizing pyrotechnics
came from Andre Russell, who hit 42 from 13 balls, four of which
were smashed for six. In their last 10 overs the West Indies plundered 115 runs.
Pakistan had replaced a bowler (Yasir Shah) with a batsman
(Nasir Jamshed), a ploy that did not work well. Jamshed had a forgettable day. He dropped a catch, damaged his finger and left the
field. He reappeared as an opening batsman and then spooned his
second delivery from Jerome Taylor to mid-on. Taylor then dispatched Younis Khan for a golden duck. Haris Sohail was caught
at point off Taylor and Ahmed Shezhad at gully off Jason Holder, a
captain who could at last be sighted with a smile. 4/1 constituted
the worst ever start in an ODI by any team.
Misbah-ul-Haq soon disappeared after edging to Chris Gayle
at slip. Sohaib Maqsood hit a silky half-century, which helped a
little to rescue Pakistan’s ailing net run rate, before chipping to
mid-on. Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi were the only others to
reach double figures.
Russell, superb athlete, bowler of bouncers and as clean a striker of the ball as anyone in Australasia, was the man of the match.
West Indies players celebrate after dismissing Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq
(R) during their World Cup Group B match in Christchurch yesterday.
Misbah criticises all departments of Pakistan team
Christchurch: Pakistan captain
Misbah-ul-Haq found fault with
every department of his team’s
performance in their 150-run loss to
West Indies yesterday which leaves
his team at the bottom of Pool B in
the World Cup.
Misbah has not yet emulated Imran
Khan by urging his team to play
like “cornered tigers”, the battle
cry which has been credited with
inspiring Pakistan’s win at the 1992
World Cup.
But something special will be
needed if Pakistan are to make any
impact on the tournament after
a dismal performance yesterday
following their loss to India in the
opening game.
As Misbah suggested, Pakistan’s
faults were widely distributed.
They dismissed the West Indies
openers cheaply after opting to field
but failed to take wickets in sufficient
quantities thereafter and conceded
115 runs off the final 10 overs.
Three simple catches were spilled
and four wickets then fell for one run
when Pakistan batted, which ended
any hopes of overhauling West
Indies’ 310 for six.
Asked at a news conference what
had gone wrong for Pakistan,
Misbah replied: “Everything, I think,
in all three departments. We couldn’t
bowl well, a lot of dropped catches.
“At the end of the day as a batsman,
a bowler and a fielder you have to
perform. As a team, as players we
need to pick ourselves up and we
need to perform.”
Pakistan’s decision to select opener
Nasir Jamshed ahead of spinner Yasir Shah in a move to strengthen the
batting proved a spectacular failure.
Jamshed dropped West Indies
opener Dwayne Smith, left the field
to nurse an injury and was then
dismissed for a second ball duck.
Misbah conceded there were problems with getting the balance of his
team right.
“Performances like that can dent
you, damage you,” he added. “We
need to really recover mentally
and think about our game. This is
how World Cups are. You have to
pick yourself up, think about your
strategies, think about where you
can improve.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Buoyant India face
tough South Africa
test in Melbourne
South Africa need Steyn to fire to contain the deep Indian batting, against whom he
took five for 50 the last time the two sides met in the World Cup four years ago.
Its India’s batting
versus SA bowling,
says Kohli
ndian vice-captain Virat
Kohli predicts an “exciting”
tussle between his team’s
batsmen and South Africa’s
bowlers during today’s World
Cup blockbuster at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“Both sides are balanced, so it
all depends on how you play on
the day,” the leading Indian batsman said ahead of the key Pool B
match that will almost certainly
assure the winner a place in the
Both teams won their opening games, defending champions
India thrashing Pakistan by 76
runs in Adelaide last Sunday and
South Africa beating Zimbabwe
by 62 runs in Hamilton earlier the
same day.
Kohli, deputising for skipper
Mahendra Singh Dhoni yesterday’s pre-match media conference, said the hard pitch with
extra bounce at the MCG will be a
challenge for the two teams.
“They have good fast bowlers and we have the batsmen,” he
said. “So it should be an exciting
contest between their bowlers
and our batsmen.
“The key will be to sustain the
momentum for the whole innings.
It is not easy to clear boundaries
at a big ground like the MCG, so
trying to step it up towards the
end won’t be easy.
“We need a calculated approach to batting.”
The 26-year-old has prospered
at the MCG, making 169 and 54
during the drawn Test against
Australia in December. He followed that with a match-winning
107 in the World Cup opener
against Pakistan in Adelaide.
Kohli and the other Indian
batsmen now face the prospect
of facing a formidable attack that
includes Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, backed
by Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell.
Kohli said it was an advantage
having played alongside the fearsome Steyn and prolific AB de
Villers for the same Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise in the
Indian Premier League.
“Dale is a good friend, I get the
biggest hug from him when we
meet,” he said. “But when we get
on the field, he will look to dominate me and I will try to dominate
“There is a good reason why he
is one of the best fast bowlers in
the game and why AB is a worldclass batsmen. We will have plans
for every player. But some players
have the ability to play the opposite of what we have planned for
Kohli said he was excited at the
prospect of playing in front of an
estimated crowd of over 80,000
fans at the MCG, almost 80 percent of whom were expected to be
Indian fans.
“I just love playing in a full
stadium,” he said. “It is very satisfying when one plays well and
makes people happy. It is not always that you will succeed, but if
you do, others will be delighted.
“It excites me to be playing
here. A win here will give us immense self-belief that we can beat
a good side. If we get over this
hurdle it will be a huge moralebooster for the tougher games
“But I am not one to look too
far ahead. It is better to take it one
match at a time. We just have to
play well as a unit. There is nothing to prove to anyone.”
India have never beaten South
Africa in the World Cup, losing
all three times they met in 1992,
1999 and 2011. But Dhoni’s men
overcame the loss four years ago
to lift the title.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers speaks during a press conference at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) ahead of their Cricket World Cup match against India.
ndia appear relaxed and refreshed,
and South Africa unsettled, ahead
of their World Cup clash on Sunday,
but the facade could be short-lived
when the two Pool B heavyweights take
the field.
Some 80,000 fans at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground are in for a treat in the
day-night match that will almost certainly assure the winner a place in the
quarter-finals from Pool B.
Both teams won their opening games,
defending champions India thrashing
Pakistan by 76 runs in Adelaide last Sunday and South Africa beating Zimbabwe
by 62 runs in Hamilton earlier the same
day. The margin of victories were deceptive because while India outplayed their
arch-rivals, South Africa were severely
tested with both bat and ball by their
lowly-ranked rivals.
The Proteas were wobbling at 83 for
four before being bailed out by a brilliant
record stand of 256 for the fifth wicket
between century-makers David Miller
and JP Duminy.
Zimbabwe then made a valiant chase of
339 for four, reaching 191 for two in the 33rd
over before the last eight wickets fell for 86
runs to hand South Africa full points.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s three for
36 hid a disappointing outing for pace
spearhead Dale Steyn, whose nine overs
cost 64 runs for one wicket.
It was later revealed Steyn was suffering from sinusitis, which continued
for so long that he missed training till
Wednesday, but now appears to be returning to top gear.
South Africa need Steyn to fire to contain the deep Indian batting, against
whom he took five for 50 the last time the
two sides met in the World Cup in Nagpur four years ago.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men overcame that defeat to lift the title a fortnight later, but they will still be wary of
what awaits them at the gigantic MCG on
Having extended their World Cup
domination over Pakistan to six matches
in a row, India now face an adversary to
whom they have lost all times in the premier 50-overs-a-side tournament.
The Indians spent a relaxed week in
Melbourne since the high-profile clash
against Pakistan, alternating between
net sessions and rest days without publicly disclosing the likely line-up for the
big game.
Media speculation of injuries to offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar were quickly dispelled by the team management, which
Matches: 70
India wins: 25
South Africa wins: 42
No result: 3
First meeting: November 10, 1991, Kolkata India won by three wickets
Last meeting: December 11, 2013, Centurion
- no result
World Cup matches - India 0 South Africa 3
•March 15, 1992, Adelaide - South Africa won
by six wickets
India 180-6 in 30 overs (Mohammad
Azharuddin 79, Kapil Dev 42, A. Donald
2-34, A. Kuiper 2-28); South Africa 181-4 in
29.1 overs (P. Kirsten 84, A. Hudson 53)
•May 15, 1999, Hove - South Africa won by
four wickets
India 253-5 in 50 overs (S. Ganguly 97, R.
Dravid 54, L. Klusener 3-66); South Africa
254-6 in 47.2 overs (J. Kallis 96, J. Rhodes
39, J. Srinath 2-69)
•March 12, 2011, Nagpur - South Africa won
by three wickets
India 296 in 48.4 overs (S. Tendulkar 111, G.
Gambhir 69, D. Steyn 5-50); South Africa
300-7 in 49.4 overs (H. Amla 61, J. Kallis 69,
AB de Villiers 52, H. Singh 3-53)
announced that all 15 squad members
were available.
India’s former World Cup- winning
coach Gary Kirsten, who is now a con-
sultant with his native South Africa, will
stress on exploiting India’s weak bowling
to counter the strong batting led by Virat
Kirsten is one of six specialists on
the coaching staff to help South Africa
overcome the unwanted tag of being the
best team never to have won the World
Besides chief coach Russell Domingo
and Kirsten, the Proteas have three bowling coaches in Allan Donald, Charl Langeveldt and Claude Henderson and have
also hired Australian Mike Hussey to provide inputs during the tournament.
The lone missing link is a psychologist
and Domingo said he wanted the team to
focus on cricketing skills.
“You can’t be mentally strong but have
bad skills,” he said.
Domingo also did not believe his side
had a psychological advantage over India because South Africa had not lost to
them in the World Cup.
“India are the current world champions and a wonderful one-day side,” he
said. “Whatever has happened in the past
in previous World Cups will count for
very little on Sunday.
“It is going to be a big stage for some of
our players who haven’t experienced that
type of atmosphere before. There’s a lot
you can take out of a good result against
India batsman Virat Kohli speaks during a press conference at the
Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.
Skipper Holder hails ‘wonderful’ West Indies
West Indies bowler Jason Holder leaps to celebrate dismissing Pakistan’s Ahmed Shahzad (R) during their World Cup
match in Christchurch yesterday.
est Indies captain Jason
Holder praised his side’s
“wonderful performance”
as they got their World Cup
campaign back on track with a 150-run
thrashing of Pakistan in Christchurch
The two-time former champions had
been brushed aside by non-Test nation
Ireland in their Pool B opener but it was
a different story at Hagley Oval.
They again topped 300, Denesh Ramdin and Lendl Simmons both making fifties, but the big difference yesterday was
their bowling.
West Indies reduced Pakistan to a
stunning one for four—the worst-ever
start to a one-day international innings—with fast bowler Jerome Taylor
(three for 15 in seven overs) leading the
“It was a wonderful performance,”
said Holder at the presentation ceremony.
“Jerome Taylor was excellent with
the new ball and I supported him quite
well,” added the skipper, who at the age
of 23 years and 108 days became the
youngest captain to oversee a World
Cup win, beating Shakib Al Hasan who
was 23 years and 338 days when he led
Bangladesh to victory over Ireland at
Mirpur in 2011.
West Indies’ Andre Russell was
named man-of-the-match for an allround contribution, which saw him follow a quickfire 42 not out with three for
“The game was set up for me to play
my part,” said Russell.
“I told Lendl Simmons to stand wide
of mid-on when I was batting because I
didn’t want to hurt him with my straight
“The start from Jerome Taylor and Jason Holder meant the bowling platform
was also set up for me. We put them on
the back foot early and it was a good win
For Pakistan, the champions in 1992
when the World Cup was last staged in
Australia and New Zealand, this was a
second defeat in as many pool matches
following their 76-run loss to titleholders and arch-rivals India.
“It was a tough day, especially after
winning the toss,” said Pakistan captain
“There was a little bit in the pitch, but
we couldn’t really exploit it.”
As for Pakistan’s stunning slump, he
added: “The guys (batsmen) up front
have been struggling a bit, and that
made it very difficult for us, especially
on a pitch like that, with the ball seaming a bit.”
Misbah insisted it was now vital that
Pakistan maintained their self-belief.
“Performances like that could really
dent you, but you have to pick yourself
up and think about your strategies.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sri Lanka ready to flex
muscles against Afghans
or a country that won the
World Cup in 1996 and
played in the last two finals,
Sri Lanka have done a great
job convincing everyone they have
no chance of winning this time.
Their heavy loss to New Zealand
in the opening match of the tournament only added weight to the
theory they were a team past their
But not everyone is convinced Sri
Lanka are a spent force, least of all
their captain Angelo Mathews, who
is relishing the chance of leading a
team that won last year’s Twenty20
World Cup but seems to be flying
under the radar.
“As I said before the tournament,
we are happy to walk into the tournament as underdogs,” Mathews
“Not many people expect us to
win but we know and we believe
in ourselves that we can do it. The
hunger is there... and the team certainly believes that we can do it.”
Sri Lanka have had eight long
days to reflect on their loss to New
Zealand and plan to take out their
frustrations on Afghanistan, who
they play in Dunedin today.
The match looms as a classic
David versus Goliath battle with
the Sri Lankans expected to dominate an Afghanistan team that de-
fied the odds just to qualify for the
World Cup but were given a harsh
reminder of the challenge they face
when they were thrashed by Bangladesh in their first match.
Even so, Sri Lanka are not taking
any chances. They not only need a
win to restore their confidence but
with run rates possibly coming into
play later in the tournament, they
need to be ruthless.
“Whether you play Afghanistan
or Australia, every game is important, so we’ll take every single game
very seriously and play the best
11 possible on that day,” Mathews
Resisting the temptation to rest
some of his key players, Mathews is
expecting a much better perform-
ance from a team who had spent the
past week working on their fielding
and talking about the importance
of preserving wickets to build a big
“We are going to play three games
in seven days and that’s going to be
a quick turnaround for us, so hopefully we can get the momentum
from tomorrow,” Mathews said.
That spells bad news for Afghanistan, the fairytale team of the competition, but their players have got
a different goal, to be competitive in
every game they play.
“We’ll be trying to do our best
against all full member nations
to play positive cricket and have
a good fight,” Afghanistan pace
bowler Mirwais Ashraf said.
Afghanistan players celebrate taking the wicket of Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal during
their Pool A World Cup match against Bangladesh in Canberra on February 18.
Zimbabwe showing
raises hope of progress
In one-day cricket, the high point came with a fifth-place finish at the 1999 World Cup, missing
out on a semi-final berth due to an inferior run rate, before the early stages of decline set in
lmost two decades have
passed since the glory days of
Zimbabwe cricket and while
the current crop of players
lack the class of their predecessors,
a promising start to their World Cup
campaign will raise hopes of a quarterfinal berth.
Zimbabwe struggled after being granted test status in 1992 but
had emerged as a force by the end of
the decade with batsmen Grant and
Andy Flower, David Houghton and allrounders Heath Streak, Paul Strang and
Andy Blignaut driving them forward.
In one-day cricket, the high point
came with a fifth-place finish at the
1999 World Cup, missing out on a semifinal berth due to an inferior run rate,
before the early stages of decline set in
at the turn of the millennium.
The politicisation of the sport, including selection policy, hampered the
side’s progress and an exodus of leading
players along with a suspension of test
matches sent the team into a downward
spiral that it is still struggling to arrest.
Currently 10th in the ODI rankings,
Zimbabwe slumped to a 5-0 defeat in a
one-day series in Bangladesh towards the
end of last year and arrived for the tournament being co-hosted by New Zealand
and Australia short of form and victories.
However, the appointment of 1996
World Cup-winning coach Dav Whatmore and a morale-boosting warm-up
win over Sri Lanka lifted spirits within
the camp and the positive momentum
was carried forward to their opening
two fixtures.
“I got a sense of genuineness to turn
things around, especially from the players,” Whatmore, who guided Sri Lanka
to victory 19 years ago, said prior to the
A Zimbabwean flag is attached to a tree during the Pool B match between the UAE and Zimbabwe in Nelson on February 19.
“I am always an optimist but I am going in with my eyes wide open. They can
play and they are tough enough. They’re
just looking for more of what they need
to perform.”
For Zimbabwe to have any hope of
advancing from the pool phase, key
contributions were needed from experienced batsmen Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Ervine as
well as all-rounder Sean Williams and
skipper Elton Chigumbura.
All have played a part so far as the
Zimbabweans pushed South Africa hard
before succumbing to a late collapse but
followed that up with an accomplished
chase of a challenging total against UAE
in their second match.
Masakadza, making his World Cup
debut almost 14 years after his first
test as a 17-year-old, scored a blistering 80 against the Proteas, while Taylor
and Ervine shone in key partnerships
with Williams (76 not out) as Zimbabwe overhauled UAE with two overs to
The turnaround in form does not
come as a surprise to Chigumbura, who
felt the conditions in the disappointing
tour of Bangladesh did not suit a side
he knew were set up to play better New
Zealand and Australian pitches.
“They are good wickets here. They
don’t turn much. Our focus since we
came here, we have been playing good
cricket, so we just need to carry on the
way we are doing and try and forget
about the negative that happened in
Bangladesh,” he said.
Zimbabwe will go into their next
match against a ragged West Indies side
full of confidence and a victory in that
fixture will set up a March 7 showdown
against an in-form Ireland with a likely
quarter-final berth on offer to the winners.
“We need to take this momentum into the game against the West
Indies,” Chigumbura said. “Hopefully we can polish up our fielding
and have a good game in all departments.”
return to
ustralia captain Michael
Clarke will have to wait another week before he can
join the World Cup party after steady rain washed out the hosts’
Pool A match against Bangladesh at
the Gabba yesterday.
Cylone Marcia brought torrential
rain to the Brisbane area, where locals
have been advised to stock up on supplies, and the persistent downpour
snuffed out any hope of even playing
a minimum requirement 20-overs-aside contest.
“AUSvBAN is officially abandoned
with incessant rain making any play
impossible,” the International Cricket
Council (ICC) said on its Twitter feed.
The teams were awarded a point
each, something Bangladesh, who
thumped Afghanistan in their tournament opener but were huge underdogs against the hosts, will welcome
more than Australia.
However, nobody would have been
be wanting the match to go ahead
more than Clarke, who missed Australia’s 111-run drubbing of England
last weekend and has only played a
warm-up against the UAE since sustaining a hamstring injury last December.
The Bangladesh fixture was the
deadline issued by selectors for the
batsman to prove his fitness and
Clarke told the pre-match news conference he was raring to go.
“I’ll put a lot of faith in my preparation and the work that I’ve done over
the last eight-and-a-half weeks and
I’m really confident that I’m a hundred percent fit to walk out on that
field and help the team have success,”
he said.
Clarke will now hope to play his
first match of the tournament against
co-hosts New Zealand in Auckland
next Saturday.
Bangladesh head to Melbourne for
their next match against Sri Lanka on
American fan catches cricket bug at World Cup
reg Conley didn’t know much about
cricket until he watched the noisy highprofile World Cup game between Pakistan and India in Adelaide last week.
The 51-year-old American from Boston has
watched eight Summer Olympics (since Seoul,
1988), and as many Winter Games, but had never
before been to a cricket match.
So what brought him to Australia and New Zealand for the World Cup?
Conley, who works in system information at a
Boston hospital, said that as there were no other
major international sporting events during his
holidays, he decided to give cricket a try.
“I love doing new things and exploring new
games so on my holidays this time I thought what
to do? When I read there is a Cricket World Cup
about to start I decided to give it a try,” Conley
told AFP outside Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
“I am enamoured by this sport and want to be
as passionate as an Indian fan. They are simply
superb with their chanting, colourful attire and
unabated following of their team.”
On a 27-hour journey, Conley tried to gather
knowledge about cricket through two books
(Cricket Tamasha by James Astill and a coaching
manual, as well as consulting the Wikipedia website.
But little did he realise that he had no chance
of getting a match-ticket for the clash between
arch-rivals India and Pakistan at the sold-out
47,000 capacity Adelaide Oval.
“When I arrived at the Adelaide stadium I
found lots and lots of people and there were no
tickets, so it was a damp squib and I went to watch
the match in a pub,” said Conley, who has also
watched eight soccer World Cups beginning in
Mexico in 1986.
But not getting a match ticket wasn’t his only
“Why I decided to watch the India-Pakistan
game was because I read about their rivalry, just
like the Brazil-Argentine in soccer, and because I
wanted to watch Sachin Tedulkar, who is like our
Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan (in basketball),”
said Conley, then unaware that the ‘Little Master’
had retired.
“But when I asked someone in the pub about
when Tendulkar will come to bat, he gave me
a stare as if I was an unwanted person,” added
Conley, who finally attended his first cricket
match in Nelson, on New Zealand’s South Island.
“It was fantastic to be at Nelson stadium and
see Ireland win against the West Indies,” said
Conley who, in common with many Bostonians,
has Irish ancestry.
“I will back India for their fans and Tendulkar,
Ireland for being my country of origin and the
West Indies as they are the only ones from the
Americas (at the World Cup),” he added.
Conley, who will fly back today, will watch the
rest of the games in Boston.
“It’s now tough to leave but I have to,” said Conley
who on Friday was able to claim, unlike many lifelong cricket fans, that he’d been among the crowd
when New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum
scored the fastest-ever World Cup fifty.
“I will watch the rest of the games on big
screens in Boston for the next five weeks.”
Cricket officials have long cherished the idea
of the game taking off in the United States and
Conley said there were grounds for optimism.
“There is some cricket in Boston but they
mostly like the Twenty20 games as they are more
popular and take less time, but I am sure this
game has the fire-power to enamour the rest of
the world,” said Conley.
“My next target will be to tour India, meet the
great man Tendulkar and watch the World Twenty20 next year.”
Bangladesh players Taskin
Ahmed and Rubel Hossain
stand on the field after their
match against Australia was
abandoned yesterday due to
the after effects of a cyclone
that hit Brisbane and its
adjoining areas on Friday.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Ovtcharov, Tianwei
remain in hunt for
Qatar Open title
Top men’s and women’s seeds enter semi-finals at the ITTF World Tour event
Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov in action at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open yesterday at Qatar Women Sports Committee Hall. PICTURES: Jayaram
By Sports Reporter
op seeds in the men’s and women’s section, Germany’s Dimitrij
Ovtcharov and Singapore’s Feng
Tianwei, entered the semi-finals
of the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour
Qatar Open yesterday.
At the Qatar Women Sports Committee
Hall, Ovtcharov needed full seven games
to overcome Jung Youngsik of Korea 118, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-13, 12-10, 11-2 in
the quarter-finals. In the morning’s prequarter-final the 26-year-old German had
easily beaten Croatia’s Andrej Gacina, the
no.10 seed, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2.
Ovtcharov will next face Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.3 seed and World ranked
no.10. Freitas had an easier quarter-final
match as he downed Daniel Habesohn of
Austria 9-11, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11.
Earlier, Freitas had ended crowd favourite
Qatar’s Li Ping hopes, defeating the no.16
seed in a hard-fought six games 7-11, 11-2,
9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7.
The fourth seed Vladimir Samsonov
of Belarus also sealed his spot in the last
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei
four, after he defeated Joao Monteiro of
Portugal. After losing the first game, Samsonov bounced back to win four on the
trot 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8. Samsonov
will next face Robert Gardos of Austria or
Chih-Yuan Chuang, with the two locked
in a late-night battle for the last remaining
semi-final spot.
In the morning session, no. 7 seed Ko-
rea’s Cho Eonrae and Hong Kong’s Tang
Peng, the no.5 seed, were shown the door.
Unseeded Habesohn accounted for Eonrae
11-4, 14-12, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, while the
no.11 seed Gardos followed suit by ousting
Hong Kong’s Tang Peng 11-9, 11-6, 11-9,
1-11, 10-12, 11-7.
Meanwhile, women’s favourite Tianwei brushed aside the challenge of Li Xue
of France 14-12, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7, 11-7 and
move a step closer to the title in Doha,
which has eluded her in the last two years.
However, Tianwei had to survive a scare
in the morning when she needed seven
games to overcome Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the
no.12 seed 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 13-11,
9-11, 11-6.
Tianwei’s next opponent is Germany’s
Han Ying, who beat Huajun Jiang of Hong
Kong 3-11, 6-11, 1-11, 11-8, 4-11. Ying too
had difficulty in the pre-quarters against
Yang Xiaoxin of Monaco. Xiaoxin won the
first three games and led 8-4 in the fourth,
before she choked as Ying capitalised to
win 4-11, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9.
The other semi pits Korea’s no.10 seed
Yang Haeun against 7th seed Samara
Elizabeta of Romaina. Haeun, who had
shocked fourth seeded Liu Jia of Austria,
beat Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko in the last
eight 4-11, 11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8.
While Elizabeta put out Germany’s Wu Jiaduo 14-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9.
The no.13 seed Jiaduo had earlier in the
morning created biggest upset in the tournament, when she had shocked Korea’s
Seo Hyowon, the no.2 seed, 11-7, 11-9,
9-11, 11-5, 11-8.
WADA chief visits
Jamaica to check
anti-doping efforts
Kingston, Jamaica
resident of the World
Anti-Doping Agency
(WADA) Craig Reedie
arrived in Jamaica on
Friday to check on the Caribbean sprint capital’s anti-doping efforts following a string
of high-profile positive drug
tests. Reedie, the first WADA
president to visit Jamaica, was
joined on the trip by International Association of Athletics
Federations (IAAF) presidential candidate Sebastian Coe.
Reedie, who started his
three-year term as head of
WADA in January 2014 is
scheduled to meet with the
boards of the Jamaica Antidoping Commission (JADCO),
the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) as well as Prime
Miller. Shortly after his arrival Reedie said he believes
the Caribbean sprint nation is
moving in the right direction
in improving its drug testing
“We are familiar with the
recommendations that we
made (to JADCO), we are familiar with the steps that Jamaica have taken and they all
seem to us to be highly productive and heading in exactly
the right direction,” said Reedie told Reuters. “We’ll know
more after I speak to the people here in Kingston.
“But I was always on the
record that this was never a
test free zone.
“All your stars are in the registered testing pool of the IAAF
and testing takes place, it’s just
that I think rest of the world
expected Jamaica to do rather
more Jamaica,” the WADA boss
A three-man WADA team
came to Jamaica in October
2013 to carry out a forensic audit of the JADCO following a
string of high-profile positive
Reedie, the first WADA
president to visit Jamaica,
was joined on the trip by
International Association
of Athletics Federations
(IAAF) presidential
candidate Sebastian Coe
drug tests including Olympic
and world championship medalists Asafa Powell, Sherone
Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Campbell-Brown, who tested positive for a banned diuretic in May 2013, had her two
year suspension from the IAAF
over-turned by the Court of
Arbitration for Sports (CAS)
because the collection of her
samples by the JADCO did not
follow WADA’s international
Powell and Simpson, who
tested positive for a banned
stimulant, also had their
18-month suspensions reduced to six months by CAS.
The island’s reputation as a
sprint superpower was seriously damaged in 2013 forcing
sweeping changes within the
In the aftermath of the doping scandals the JADCO has
changed its board of directors, employed a new executive director and implemented
a battery of recommendations
proposed by WADA.
“Reedie will be apprised of
the improvements in Jamaica’s efforts in the fight against
doping,” JOA president Mike
Fennell told Reuters. “He’ll
also be provided with updates
about the new anti-doping
legislation passed last December, the JADCO’s educational
programme which has been
rolled out and plans for drug
testing in 2015.”
Coe, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet with JAAA officials over as he prepares to
run against fellow Olympic
gold medalist Sergey Bubka to
replace Lamine Diack as president of the IAAF.
Britain’s Olympic champ Kenny’s Froome takes Ruta del Sol
lead with stage four win
worlds nightmare ends
lympic champion Jason Kenny’s Parisian
nightmare ended in
abject failure yesterday as he was knocked out in the
first round of the men’s sprint.
Having finished 10th in qualifying, he was then beaten by
Hersony Canelon of Venezuela.
At the national velodrome in
just outside the French capital,
he had also lost in the first round
of the keirin and finished eighth
in the team pursuit.
For a three-time Olympic gold
medal winner and twice world
champion, his competition has
been an unmitigated disaster.
Reigning champion Francois
Pervis had to come through the
repechage to keep his sprint repeat hopes alive.
Pervis had been beaten in the
eighth-finals by French compatriot Quentin Lafargue. But last
year’s silver medallist Stefan
Boetticher, was knocked out,
beaten by 2014 bronze medallist
Britain’s Jason Kenny competes in the men’s sprint qualifying
event at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Saint-Quentin-en
Yvelines, near Paris yesterday. (Reuters)
Denis Dmitriev of Russia in the
eighth-final before the German
finished behind Pervis in the repechage.
Olympic champion Laura
Trott and world champion Sarah
Hammer both had a slow start to
the women’s omnium—the six-
discipline event. Trott finished
down in 13th in the opening
scratch race before winning the
individual pursuit to move up to
seventh overall.
Hammer was eighth in the
scratch before a fourth place finish in the pursuit left her in the
same position overall. Annette
Edmondson, part of Australia’s
world record-breaking team
pursuit squad, was the overall leader after two disciplines
ahead of Belarussian Tatsiana
Sharakova and Kirsten Wild of
the Netherlands.
The men’s omnium was shaping up into a battle between two
road sprinters. Young Colombian sensation, Fernando Gaviria,
who beat Mark Cavendish twice
last month at the Tour of San
Juan, held a six-point lead over
Italian Elia Viviani, who rides for
Britain’s Team Sky. Viviani has
won three of the five events so far
with only the points race to come
on Saturday evening.
Australian 2012 world champion Glenn O’Shea was third, 12
points behind Gaviria, but 2013
world champion Aaron Gate of
New Zealand was 12th and way
out of contention after a disastrous 1km time-trial saw him
finish last but one.
Reigning champion Thomas
Boudat has his work cut out
to get among the medals, sitting fifth but 20 points behind
Maracena, Spain
hris Froome produced a stunning
breakaway up a steep summit finish on
the 199.8km fourth stage of the Ruta del
Sol to take a two-second lead over Alberto Contador into today’s final stage.
Contador had held a 27-second lead over the
2013 Tour de France winner after winning their
first battle of the season on a mountain finish in
Friday’s third stage.
However, Froome had his revenge on the gruelling 4.4km climb to the finish line at Alto de las
Allanadas to take the stage in 5hr 08min 54sec
and grab the narrowest of advantages over his
Spanish rival. “I’m absolutely blown away to have
pulled that off at the end there,” said Froome.
“I came into this race thinking that I’m here
to find my legs, test them, and see where I’m at.
To have been able to win the stage and go into the
race lead today is incredible.”
Contador was second with Froome’s Sky teammate Mikel Nieve back in third. “Some days you
win, some days you lose,” said the two-time Tour
de France winner. “I think it is great that the Ruta
del Sol is such a fantastic race, that it is such a
show and closely fought.”
Contador announced his intention to retire at
the end of the 2016 season earlier this week, but
wants to become the first man since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Giro d’Italia and the
Tour de France in the same season before he bows
out. “I am very happy with how my preparation is
going. Yesterday when I won everyone said I was
so strong, but I have my own plan. I am going a bit
slower at this stage of the season than in the past
with the Giro in mind.”
Froome is now firm favourite to claim the overall win on the flatter 169.8km stage from Montilla
to Alhaurin de la Torre.
However, he insisted that Contador can never
be written off. “This race is not over until it’s over
though. In the last few years I’ve learnt that Alberto never gives up.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Ajman Stud’s Memphis 27 wins
Senior Championship Colt title
Lammah Al Fahadeah gets silver while Al Shaqab Stud’s Ghasham Al Shaqab takes bronze
By Sports Reporter
jman Stud’s Memphis
27 clinched the title of
the Senior Championship Colt during the
24th Qatar International Arabian
Horse Show at the outdoor arena
of the Qatar Equestrian Federation yesterday. Fahad bin Sultan
bin Abdulaziz al-Saud owned
Lammah Al Fahadeah was the
silver champion while Al Shaqab
Stud’s Ghasham Al Shaqab was
adjudged the bronze champion.
Memphis 27 had earlier edged
out Ghasham Al Shaqab in Class
10A contest with an aggregate
of 93.00 points each, but the
former was declared the winner
for better mobemnt in the arena.
Saudi Arabia’s Norma, a progeny of Ghazal Al Shaqab claimed
the Senior Championship Fillies
title ahead of Anood Al Nasser which is owned by Qatar’s
Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser alThani. Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Dalim al-Otaiabi owned
Pinga finished third to take the
bronze title.
The Junior Championship for
Colts saw Saudi Arabia’s Loay Al
Khalediah Althani take the Gold
Medal while Al Shaqab Stud’s
Hadidy Al Shaqab had to be content with the Silver Medal. Qatar’s Sheikh Abdulla bin Khalid
al-Thani owned Asfoor Al Waab
ensured two of the top three finishes for the host country by taking the bronze title.
The Junior Fillies title was
won by Saudi Arabia’s Piacolla.
Ajman Stud’s AJ Reeda was declared the Silver champion ahead
of Mounira J, who had to settle
for the bronze medal.
The Gold Medal winners were
awarded with Mercedes E300
and ML 400 cars, while the silver
medalists were given GMC Sierra Crew Cab SLE and Crew Cab
2500 Series. The bronze winners were gifted GMC Regular
Cab SLE cars.Qatar’s Al Nasser
Stud bred Ammar Al Nasser
was awarded the Gold Champion Yearling Colt title, while Al
Shaqab Stud’s Moneer Al Shaqab
took the Silver medal and Kuwait’s Taj Al Fayyad brought
home the Bronze champion title.
Sultanat Al Shaqab was adjudged the Gold Champion
Yearling Filly, while Bohour Al
Shaqab was declared the Silver
Champion ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Hajer Al Muawd who took
the Bronze title.
The championship for the
Yearlings were introduced for
the first in the competition and
the winner took the first prize of
QR100,000, the silver medallist
was awarded QR50,000, while
the bronze winner got QR25,000.
Earlier in the day, Al Shaqab
bred Fakhr Al Shaqab and IBN
Naama Al Shaqab took the first
two places in Class 13A Riding Class. Fakhr Al Shaqab with
The connections of Ajman Stud’s Memphis 27 pose with the trophy after it clinched the Senior Championship Colt title during the 24th Qatar International Arabian Horse Show at the outdoor arena of the
Qatar Equestrian Federation yesterday. PICTURES: Juhaim
Lauren Wilkinson in the saddle,
garnered 10 points to take the
first place, while IBN Naama Al
Shaqab (Sian Jones astride) was
second with eight points.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin
Faisal al-Thani owned Naama
Al Shaqab (Elie Richmond up)
took the top honours in Class 13B
Riding Class, while Sian Jones
owned and ridden Eminia was
In Class 10A, Saudi Arabia’s
Lammah Al Fahadeah was adjudged the best looking Stallion
in the four to six years category.
Lammah Al Fahadeah with
a tally of 93.00 edged out Al
Shaqab Stud’s Ghasham Al
Shaqab who got identical points
but lost out on movement to the
Saudi challenger. Ghassan bin
Saleh bin al-Muzaidi was third
with 91.83 points.
Al Nayfat Stud continued the
winning trend for Saudi Arabia
with Mascot Des Alpes (92.00
points) clinching the Class 10B
for Stallions. Al Shahania Stud’s
Jamil Al Shahania was second
with 91.50 points, while Nawar
Al Safinat bagged 90.50 points to
take the third place.
In Class 11 for Mares seven to
10 years, Ajman Stud’s Memphis
27 was adjudged the winner with
an aggregate of 93.38 points,
while Mountassar Al Zobair
(92.25) and Bashir Al Shaqab
(91.38) finished second and third
Dignitaries watch the 24th Qatar International Arabian Horse Show at Qatar Equestrian Federation.
Qatar’s Al Nasser Stud bred Ammar Al Nasser was awarded the
Gold Champion Yearling Colt title.
Sami Jassim al-Boenain, QREC General Manager, poses with winner of ridden class.
Sultanat Al Shaqab was adjudged the Gold Champion Yearling Filly.
Aspire Zone announces fourth
edition of Aspire Jam
Maribor, Slovenia
By Sports Reporter
fter successfully organising the
event for the past three years, Aspire Zone has announced that this
year’s edition of Aspire Jam will be
held on Saturday, March 14 from 3 to 8 PM
at Aspire park basketball Court. The fourth
edition of Aspire Jam is a unique opportunity for Qatar’s best street basketball players
to showcase their amazing skills and incredible techniques in front of a home audience.
Aspire Jam is a three-on-three street basketball tournament with two substitutes
completing the team of five. All games will
be played on a half court, as per the previous
years. This edition of Aspire Jam will feature
16 teams competing for the coveted title.
Abdulla al-Khater, Events Manager at Aspire Zone said: “Basketball is a really popular
sport in Qatar and we are delighted to be organising the 4th edition of Aspire Jam. The
event is a rare opportunity for our incredibly
talented local street basketball players to
Fenninger takes Maribor
World Cup giant slalom win
come together and show us their outstanding skills.”
Al-Khater added: “Aspire Zone is committed to organising events that involve the
community, particularly young people that
helps them to be active, to enjoy a sport,
while at the same time to have fun!”
The event is open to both Qatari nationals
as well as male residents living in Qatar aged
16 years and over. Aspire Jam has specifi-
cally been organised to highlight the talent
of amateur players, and not for professional
and college players.
Aspire Zone remains dedicated to organising events that promote living a healthy
lifestyle and encourage the community to be
active like Aspire Jam, Aquathon, Cycle in
Aspire and Kids run the park. Teams that are
looking to enter should log on to: www.lifeinaspire.qa as spots are expected to fill fast.
ustrian world champion Anna Fenninger
claimed her second World Cup giant slalom win of the season and closed the gap
on overall leader Tina Maze by taking victory in Maribor yesterday.
Fenninger perfectly controlled her two runs on
the Slovenian course to triumph in a combined
time of two minutes and 24.50 seconds but it was a
close call as she led last weekend’s silver-medallist
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany by 0.04 seconds.
Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather finished a further
0.30 seconds behind in third.
“I really needed that extra gear in the final part
because I was not going fast at all in the middle section,” Fenninger, who had only clinched the season
opener in Soelden prior to her giant slalom and Super-G titles in Beaver Creek, told reporters.
Local favourite Maze and American Lindsey Vonn
crashed out in the morning run.
Vonn, the most successful woman skier of alltime, lay on the snow for a while, raising fears that
she might be in trouble but the US Ski Team later
said she was alright.
Maze’s crash was significant in the overall standings as Fenninger is now only 84 points behind.
“My schedule is heavy and I didn’t have time to
rest since the world champs. I’m exhausted,” said
the Slovenian, the only skier taking part in all alpine disciplines in the World Cup. Maze, who won
the super-combined and downhill titles at Beaver
Creek, cannot afford to miss out on today’s slalom
at home to keep defending champ Fenninger at bay.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Mayweather & Pacquiao bout
has been five years in making
Pot of at least £250mn means the bout will be richest ever single occasion in sport; $100 to watch fight on pay-per-view
FINALLY... The much-awaited fight
between Floyd Mayweather (left)
and Manny Pacquiao will happen on
May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
By Kevin Mitchell
part from the result, two
things will be remembered
most about the first and possibly last fight between Floyd
Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao—
confirmed at last for May 2 at the MGM
Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
One is the sheer financial scope of
the event, with a total pot of at least
£250mn, the richest single occasion
in the history of the sport. The other is
the part played by social media, from
professional journalists to eager amateurs, in stoking those numbers. We
have seen nothing quite like it before.
When Muhamed Ali and Joe Frazier
were scheduled to meet at Madison
Square Garden in 1971 in an extravaganza every bit as big as this one, a New
York newspaper strike threatened to
cripple the promotion.
However, in an age before instant
communication, Ali’s peerless selling
skills, out on the street talking to people, in front of every microphone, not
only saved the show but made it one of
the most memorable sporting events of
the 20th century, one in which a drunk
Norman Mailer was ejected from a
press conference, Diana Ross tried to
pinch a precious media seat and Frank
Sinatra was grateful to get a gig as a
ringside photographer.
Ringside seats went for what seems
now a paltry $150. The fighters got a
record $2.5mn each. The live world-
wide audience was estimated at 300m.
That’s how big The Fight of The Century was.
This time, a hundred sweating fingers, ready to feed the clickbait frenzy,
were poised over keyboards across the
fevered landscape of social media for
every hour of every day of every week
of the saga, determined not to miss a
Mayweather heartbeat (as desperate as
Mailer, Ross and Sinatra were to be part
of history).
Boxing writers fell over themselves
trying to insinuate themselves into the
narrative on a daily basis.
Some made claims based on the
trusted whispers of long-time sources,
only to be serially disappointed; others regurgitated second-hand rumours
as fact. Nobody really knew—not the
whole story, anyway. Negotiators
used them to drip-feed tidbits to a
potentially vast pay-per-view audience willing to pay $100 a shot for the
privilege. It all kept the story bubbling.
Journalists lost a lot of sleep.
All the time, of course, Mayweather, the only man who could sign off
the deal, waited, soaked up some rays
in Miami, watched some basketball
in New York and spent some money
(£450,000 on jewellery for his friends,
a la Mike Tyson, as well as picking
up a two-door £250,000 Rolls Royce
Wraith for his 14-year-old daughter).
Pacquiao kept his distance and a
dignified silence. He’d retreated to
his mountain training camp in Manila, chatting on the phone occasionally with his trainer, Freddie Roach,
who kept telling visitors and callers to
his Wild Card gym in Hollywood that
the fight had to happen because Floyd
wanted it to happen. There was never
any question about who was driving
this crazy story. Roach and Mayweather knew that better than anyone.
The one party reluctant to accept the
mind-blinding reality was Bob Arum.
He and Mayweather had been implacable rivals since the fighter left
Arum’s promotional embrace after all
but a handful of fights together up to
2005, and the Harvard alumni, once a
confidant of presidents, fought hard to
retain a slice of influence and dignity
here for his company, Top Rank.
The head-butting between Mayweather and Arum (who’d parted acrimoniously) began in 2009.
Mayweather had come out of retirement to knock out Ricky Hatton in
2007, then quit the sport again, this
time for nearly two years.
Arum had shifted his allegiance to
the sport’s other claimant to being the
pound-for-pound best in the world,
Now knocking people out with spectacular ease, the little Filipino with the
big smile was preparing to do the same
to Hatton on May 2, 2009, Cinco de
Mayo, when Mayweather arrived at the
MGM Grand to steal his thunder with
a press conference announcing his
comeback, against Juan Manuel Márquez later that year.
From that point on, the battle lines
between Mayweather, increasingly in
control of his own management and
promotion (to the point where he is
now the most powerful single individual in boxing), and the gnarled East
Coast lawyer Arum, who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday, were struck
in cement.
Ego and self-interest drowned out
common sense as one effort after another to match Mayweather and Pacquiao, the game’s unrivalled drawcards, foundered.
Mayweather made the first approach
in the summer of 2009, but Arum
called him “delusional” for demanding an equal split of revenues. How he
must wish he’d accepted.
By the end of the year, Mayweather,
his father, Floyd Sr, and other members
of his entourage were hinting loudly
and publicly that Pacquiao’s supplements were not as legitimate as implied by his back-up team, headed by
the controversial and confrontational
Alex Ariza.
Nevertheless, they came to a tentative agreement: Mayweather and Pacquiao would fight the following March
at a venue to be decided. Predictably,
the niggling was instant: Mayweather, the bigger man, insisted Pacquiao
move up from 147lbs to 154lbs and use
10oz gloves (against the game’s normal
practice for the lighter weights), obviously to nullify the Filipino’s power.
Those were minor irritants, though,
compared to the main Mayweather demand: Olympic-style drugs-testing.
Pacquiao, miffed at the innuendo surrounding his training practices, refused—and took legal action, eventu-
ally getting an apology from the Money
Team and their acolytes.
The fight was off.
From that point until last September, hurdles went up as if they were
constructing a Grand National run.
There was talk of talks between them
in 2010, never properly verified.
Another couple of lost years passed
as they each sought different career
paths and it was not until early 2013,
after Pacquiao had begun to show signs
of decline, when they engaged again
with any serious intent.
What certainly persuaded Mayweather to contemplate a Pacquiao
fight was the devastating one-punch
knockout Juan Manuel Márquez inflicted on him in December 2012. While
it would have been a career-finishing
blow for anyone but the resilient Pacquiao, it dramatically undermined his
bargaining power.
He rebuilt his career—alongside the
one he was establishing as a Senator in
his homeland, while simultaneously
dealing with a crippling tax bill in the
United States and fighting in Macau,
away from the grasp of the IRS—but
there was no question now of parity:
Mayweather was the man.
Arum had very few cards to play with;
he would have to swallow a lot of pride to
secure one mega payday for his fighter,
and Pacquiao made it clear through his
financial adviser, the mysterious Canadian lawyer Michael Koncz, that he
wanted this fight very much indeed.
Egos would have to be parked at the door,
deals done—and lots of money made.
And so Mayweather and his paymasters Showtime (and their owners CBS), Pacquiao and his long-time
TV bank HBO, as well as Arum, who
loathes Mayweather, and Mayweather’s key confidant, Al Haymon, whose
thoughts on anyone beyond his own
office are not known, would be forced
by circumstance to make one last grab
at cashing in.
If such a denouement seemed inevitable in any other walk of life, in
any other sport, no such guarantee was
ever forthcoming in boxing.
As ludicrous as it seems, it was not
inconceivable at any point over the
past few months that either side would
walk away from the biggest moneymaking proposition in their sport’s
history, a business that has been designed through a century and more of
artful compromise for the specific purpose of making money.
What both sides had to deal with
was an obvious dilemma, one of their
own making: selling what five years
earlier had been the sport’s most anticipated event since Sugar Ray Leonard fought Marvin Hagler at Caesar’s Palace 28 years ago, but with
two combatants whose skills had demonstrably faded.
The wise men’s gamble was that a
gullible public they had consistently
toyed with in the past would now provide the funds at the pay-per-view
gate to sustain the commercial logic of
their blatant opportunism.
Against all odds, defying all logic, it
seems it was a well-placed wager.
England cricket coach Peter Moores apologises for team’s poor showing
By Mike Selvey
eter Moores, the England head coach,
was in a contrite mood when the team
arrived in Christchurch yesterday for
tomorrow’s game against Scotland. It
was no time for excuses, or mitigation.
“My overriding feeling was a disappointment
for the people who came to watch,” he said,
“and we can only apologise for that because we
didn’t play in the way we wanted to play. Backed
up from what happened at the MCG as well it is
something we have to address.”
“It was unacceptable,” he continued. “We
are not looking for excuses. I think if you spoke
to the players they would say that the preparation for this game was good but when it came
to playing they just didn’t play and we have
to accept that. We didn’t play in the style we
would have liked, got to address that, accept it
and come back with something.”
How could it go so catastrophically wrong?
England came into this World Cup knowing fully
well that on current form, the first two matches
they played would be the toughest faced by anyone: being underdogs against Australia is not a
new phenomenon, but against New Zealand as
well is something altogether new.
It was New Zealand who dealt with the relative statuses better, a team in the best sense of
the word, brilliantly led by brain and example,
and containing excellent cricketers with more
—the left-arm paceman Mitchell McClenaghan springs to mind—on the sidelines. They
are right up there with the best.
England though were dismal, a collective
failure to cope with conditions in which they,
of all teams, ought to be able to cope. The white
balls swung for New Zealand, the one used by
Tim Southee more than that accorded Trent
Boult, and did so consistently through the 33
overs that the innings lasted.
It was unusual to see that. England lost early
wickets but the manner in which Southee had
bowled, and the prospect of Jimmy Anderson
in particular matching that, meant that at 104
for three, they had the foundations of a competitive total. Instead Eoin Morgan, sensing, so
he says, the game drifting towards the opposition, tried to seize the initiative, and holed out.
Brendon McCullum was on it in a flash,
brought back his strike bowler Southee, and
that was that. Southee would have been a
handful for anyone on this day, but England
were bereft of ideas as he went wide of the
crease to vary his angle, beat the outside of the
bat to rattle the offstump and hammered in his
yorker, all at a pace around 86mph. Brilliant
bowling then, but a capitulation nevertheless.
“The tri-series was a great place to prepare,”
Moores said. “We beat India twice and scored
300 against Australia. I think we have to accept
that with some of our emerging players, there are
still some gaps between them and those of New
Zealand and Australia, who are very good sides.
“But the way we play, I don’t think anyone
in the dressing room, coach or player, would
be happy with that, and we have to be judged
by what we come back with. We can talk all we
like but realistically on Monday we play Scotland then we have Sri Lanka and we have to start
playing better cricket if we are to get ourselves
in a position to qualify for the quarter finals.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Williams leads
Raptors to 105-80
victory over Hawks
‘There are a lot of reason we didn’t play well. They were a big part of that’
Louis Williams (No 23) of the Toronto Raptors scores a basket as
Kent Bazemore (No 24) and Dennis Schroder (No 17) of the Atlanta
Hawks look on at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Friday. (AFP)
he Toronto Raptors
proved they’re a team
to watch in the Eastern
Conference. They also
showed once again they can
beat the Atlanta Hawks — and in
convincing fashion.
The matchup of the Eastern
Conference’s top teams turned
into rout as Toronto opened the
second half of the season with
a surprisingly lopsided 105-80
win over the Hawks on Friday night.Lou Williams had 26
points while making seven of 10
3-pointers and DeMar DeRozan
had 21 points for Toronto. The
Raptors outscored the Hawks
28-13 in the third quarter to turn
a close game into a 23-point lead.
Atlanta still has a 5 ½-game
lead over Toronto in the Eastern
Conference standings, but the
Raptors won the season series
3-1. No other team has two wins
over the Hawks.
Williams said the Raptors
were motivated by Atlanta’s
similarly lopsided 110-89 win at
Toronto on January 16.
“We were embarrassed on
our home court so we wanted to
come out and play with that on
our mind,” Williams said.
The Raptors won with defense. Williams had four of Toronto’s 15 steals — matching the
team’s season high. The Raptors
blocked nine shots.
“We were scrambling,” said
DeRozan, who had three steals.
“We tried not to let them get
anything easy. We didn’t want
to let them get going, get a
rhythm. As long as we do that,
we can live with the outcome.”
“You have to give Toronto a
lot of credit,” Hawks coach Mike
Budenholzer said.
“They gave it to us good tonight. There are a lot of reason
we didn’t play well. They were a
big part of that.”
Atlanta’s Al Horford said the
Hawks wouldn’t be worried
about a matchup with Toronto
if the teams meet in the playoffs.
“No. Give them credit,
Orlando .......................95 New Orleans 84
Indiana .....................106 Philadelphia 95
Toronto ....................105 Atlanta................... 80
Detroit ......................100 Chicago ..................91
Miami.............................111 NY Knicks............87
Minnesota ................111 Phoenix ............. 109
Cleveland ............... 127 Washington .....89
Dallas .............................111 Houston ............100
Milwaukee .............. 89 Denver .....................81
Utah................................92 Portland.................76
they’re a great team,” Horford
said. “But we’re a confident
group.” The Hawks have lost
four of seven following a teamrecord 19-game winning streak.
The Hawks and Raptors set
team records for wins before
the All-Star break, and neither
made moves before Thursday’s
trade deadline. Toronto backed
up that show of confidence in
the final regular-season meeting of the clubs.
The Raptors stretched their
49-45 halftime lead with a
dominant third quarter. Atlanta
made only three of 19 shots.
Kyle Korver had a dismal period, missing all five of his shots
while committing two turnovers.Budenholzer turned the
game over to backups such as
Mike Muscala, John Jenkins and
Shelvin Mack for much of the
final period.
Meanwhile Miami Heat star
forward Chris Bosh’s season
could be in doubt as doctors
were concerned he may have
developed blood clots in his
lungs, according to the Miami
Bosh was admitted to a Miami hospital on Thursday after
complaining for several days
about discomfort in his chest.
He underwent initial tests
that proved inconclusive, according to the Heat. The fear is
that Bosh could have blood clots
in his lungs, the newspaper reported Friday.
If there are clots, Bosh would
miss the remainder of the season while being treated with
blood thinners for pulmonary
embolism. Treatment of such
a condition typically requires
at least six months of limited
physical activity. Bosh, a 10time All-Star who won two
NBA titles with the Heat, was
averaging 21.1 points and 7.0 rebounds this season. Last July, he
signed a five-year contract that
guaranteed him $118 million.
The Sacramento Kings signed
guard David Stockton to a 10day contract. The 5-foot-11,
165-pound Stockton is averaging 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds,
7.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 27.5
minutes in 31 games for the
Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s
NBA Development League affiliate.
Stockton went undrafted in
2014 out of Gonzaga University.
He is the son of Hall of Fame
guard John Stockton.
The Philadelphia 76ers are
keeping guard Tim Frazier
around at least a little while
longer, signing him to a second
10-day contract. Frazier joined
the Sixers on Feb. 5 and has
started two games and played in
three. He is averaging 5.0 points,
5.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists.
Blues ride
big second
period, beat
Bruins 5-1
St. Louis
t 23, Vladimir Tarasenko
became the youngest St
Louis player to score 30
goals in 23 years.
Two years younger than
Tarasenko, Boston Bruins goalie
Malcolm Subban wanted a doover. “You try to score on every
shift so hard,” Tarasenko said
after getting the last two goals
in the Blues’ 5-1 victory over the
sagging Bruins on Friday night.
“I need to keep going. We have
25 games more.”
Petteri Lindbohm, Alex Pietrangelo and T J Oshie scored
on the Blues’ first three shots of
the second to chase Subban and
cancel Tuukka Rask’s scheduled
night off. Rask, who has played
in 25 of the last 26 games, flipped
a chair before leaving the bench.
“Tough start for Malcolm, not
getting any shots and then bang,
bang, bang, a few goals and that’s
it,” Rask said. “I felt bad for him.
I just told ‘Don’t worry about it’
when he was skating off.’”
Brad Marchand scored for
Boston, which lost its sixth in a
row and played most of the final
two periods without David Krejci (lower body). Subban re-entered with 4:06 to go and didn’t
see another shot but it was far
too late for the Bruins, who are
0-4-2 in their longest winless
stretch since going 0-6-4 Jan.
16-Feb. 6, 2010.
Coach Claude Julien yanked
Subban with Boston trailing
3-1 to give players a confidence
boost. He put him back in because the game was out of hand.
The Bruins are in a tough
spot, one point ahead of Florida
for the final playoff spot in the
Eastern Conference.“We’d like
to get a little bit of a break with
some good goal-tending from
our backup,” Julien said. “And I
guess we’ll have to go back to the
drawing board and look at how
we want to approach this.”
Tarasenko’s 30th of the season
capped the four-goal second and
he got his 31st midway through
the third. At 23 years, 65 days,
he’s the team’s youngest 30-goal
scorer since Brendan Shanahan
NY Rangers ...... 3
New Jersey .......4
St. Louis.................5
Colorado ..............4
Anaheim ..............6
Minnesota ..........4
Buffalo .................1
Vancouver ....2
Toronto ...............1
Boston .................1
Calgary .............3
got his 30th at 23 years, 63 days
in 1991-92. “He’s a tremendous
talent,” forward Alexander Steen
said. “He’s extremely skilled and
he’s got a heck of a shot.”
Steen had three assists in the
second period and goalie Jake
Allen moved past a shaky start
for the Blues, who mustered just
three shots in the first period
before coming alive. They made
the most of just 15 shots on the
night, with Boston getting 27
shots. “We can quick-strike,
and we’re dangerous,” coach Ken
Hitchcock said.
The 21-year-old Subban was
the Bruins’ first-round pick in
2012. His NHL debut went bad in
a hurry, beginning with Lindbohm’s first career goal that went
in and out of the glove and then
off the goalie’s backside into the
net at 48 seconds of the second.
“I guess I’ve got to look at the
game tonight and think about all
the stuff I did wrong,” Subban
said. “Obviously, I was way too
deep on all three goals. Regardless of how they went in — tip,
screen, whatever, knuckle puck,
it doesn’t matter — I’ve got to
challenge more.”
Pietrangelo’s first goal in
23 games was a one-timer off
Michel Bergeron’s stick and under Subban’s glove at 4:16 and
Oshie scored on a drive from the
top of the right circle to make it
3-1 at 5:09 and prompt a timeout
and the goalie change.
Tarasenko made it four goals
on seven shots in the second
when he slapped home a rebound on a power play at 13:59,
and he beat Rask again from the
slot at 11:45 of the third.
The Bruins had a 7-0 shots
advantage when Marchand’s
17th goal sailed under Allen’s
glove at 10:42 of the first, and
the Blues didn’t get their first
shot for another 2 1/2 minutes.
St Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia (L) celebrates his second
period goal against the Boston Bruins with teammates T J Oshie and
Paul Stastny (R) at the Scottrade Center in St Louis.
Major League Baseball declares new pace of play rules
ollowing an offseason in
which concerns about
ever-growing game times
emerged as hot-button
issues, Major League Baseball and
the Major League Baseball Players Association announced new
policies aimed at reducing game
times by shortening the breaks
between innings, the time required for instant replay, and the
quirk-filled out-of-the-batter’sbox moments between pitches.
Violations will earn warnings and
fines, in the case of “flagrant vio-
lations,” according to a press release. Neither warnings nor fines
will be levied in spring training or
April of this season.
“The Pace of Game Committee wants to take measured
steps as we address this industry
goal to quicken the pace of our
great game,” said Atlanta Braves
President and Chairman of the
league’s Pace of Game Committee John Schuerholz in a statement released Friday.
“It is not an objective of ours
to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away; it is more
important to develop a culture
of better habits and a structure
with more exact timings for
non-game action.”
Beginning this season, halfinning breaks will be limited to
2 minutes, 25 seconds for locally
televised games and 2 minutes, 45
seconds for nationally televised
ones. A timer will count down
these breaks, of which the final 40
seconds will be carefully rationed:
with 40 seconds left, the batter
will be announced and his walkup music started.
Thirty seconds to go will signal
the pitcher’s final warm-up pitch,
and with 20 to 5 seconds left, the
batter must enter the batter’s box.
The time spent on a pitching
change will also be limited by
this clock. Pitchers trot in from
the bullpen at various speeds to
take their allotted eight warmup pitches. Under new rules, any
of those pitches not taken when
30 seconds are left on the clock
will be forfeited.
For pitchers such as Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen, who says he often finds
himself waiting with warm-up
pitches complete for the television broadcasts to return from
commercial, the clock won’t be
a problem.
“I don’t mind it,” said Stammen, who — like the other Nationals players in Viera Friday
— had yet to be fully informed
about the rule changes and just
heard about them indirectly.
“It’ll be a good thing. I don’t
think it’s a big deal to speed the
process up a bit instead of just
jacking around wasting time.”
Newly acquired veteran reliever Casey Janssen, who endured
what can be gruellingly long
games in the American League
East for his entire career, said he
would be concerned for players
whose jogs in from the bullpen
take a bit longer than others.
“Everybody’s different. I’ll
joke with him, he’s retired now,
but the pace that Darren Oliver
[who pitched with Janssen in Toronto in 2012 and 2013 at age 41
and 42] runs to the mound and
some young 23-year-old runs
to the mound might be significantly different,” Janssen said.
“To say that a certain pitcher has
to run with a certain tempo to get
to the mound so he gets his allotted warm-up pitches is such a
silly rule, especially if at the end
of the day you want to make sure
he’s loose so he doesn’t get an
arm injury.”
Another key component of Friday’s announced changes is that
batters must keep at least one foot
in the batter’s box after every pitch
unless one of a few listed exceptions should occur.
Those exceptions include a batter swinging at a pitch, faking a
bunt, being forced from the batter’s box by a pitch, or either side
calling time. Nine-inning major
league games averaged longer
than three hours each last season
for the first time in history.
If the goal is to dip back below
that three-hour mark, making
batters keep one foot in the batter’s box likely won’t accomplish
that on its own.
In addition to the fact that time
spent by antsy batters between
pitches doesn’t sum to much
time relative to the game’s overall length, one should note that
those seconds are not necessarily
reduced just because a player has
a foot in the box.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
India’s Chowrasia
on track for third
European Tour title
‘I missed with my eight-iron on the 17th or else I would have still been bogey
free. I want to think and play positive on the final day. I will play aggressively’
New Delhi
ocal favourite SSP Chowrasia
(pictured above) will head into today’s final round of the Indian Open
with a two-shot lead in his pocket
and a third European Tour title in sight.
After going 52 holes without dropping
a shot at the Delhi Golf Course (DGC),
his bogey-free run came to an end on the
17th but a two-under-par 69 was enough
to finish ahead of holder Siddikur Rahman
on 12-under 201.
“I missed with my eight-iron on the
17th or else I would have still been bogeyfree,” said Chowrasia who claimed both
his previous European titles on home soil.
“I want to think and play positive on the
final day. The final round is always special
so I will play aggressively,” he added.
Chowrasia, the son of a greenkeeper,
made a birdie-birdie start and got a lucky
break on the eighth when his tee shot deflected off a tree and bounced 40 metres to
the edge of the fairway.
Bangladeshi Siddikur, who won the trophy two years ago before it was co-sanctioned by the European Tour, also birdied
the opening hole but fell four shots behind
after a double bogey on 15.
“I had a nice rhythm and picked up a
couple of shots until the double bogey,”
the DGC specialist said after his 70.
“I managed to recover well and made a
great par save on 17 and then managed to
birdie the last so overall I am happy with
one-under today.”
In his 11 starts at the DGC, Siddikur has
won once at the 2013 Indian Open and
registered another nine top-10 finishes.
“The birdie at the last was very important. Anything can happen in this
game. I am looking forward to tomorrow
and hopefully I can play the way I did on
Thursday,” he said.
Australian Marcus Fraser was third on
206 after a 67. Indian-born Swede Daniel
Chopra made a brilliant eagle on the parfive 18th to card a 65, the lowest round of the
day, and join Thai Prayad Marksaeng on 207.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez returned a
second successive 71 to close on 212.
Goosen grabs Riviera lead
Two-time US Open champion Retief
Goosen drained a 30-foot birdie putt at
his final hole on Friday to grab the secondround lead at the Northern Trust Open.
A firm, fast Riviera Country Club course
was giving players fits in the $6.7 million
US PGA Tour event.
Goosen fired a one-under par 70 for a
36-hole total of six-under 136 and a onestroke lead over Canadian Graham DeLaet
and Americans Ryan Moore and Justin
Moore had four birdies in his threeunder 68, the only blemish on his card a
bogey at the 18th.
DeLaet had five birdies and one bogey
in his four-under par 67—which matched
the best round of the day—while Thomas
posted a 69 highlighted by an eagle at the
par-five first hole.
Argentinian veteran Angel Cabrera, a
former US Open and Masters champion,
was alone in fifth place after a 68 for 138.
Goosen said his birdie at his final hole,
the par-four ninth, was “a pretty good bonus.” “It wasn’t a very good shot in there
with a sand wedge into the green, but it’s a
tough hole there. Any time I birdie on that
hole is good,” he said.
The 46-year-old, seeking his first US
tour victory since the 2009 Transitions
Championship, was among six players
who shared the first-round lead on fiveunder par. He was pleased with his performance in the testing conditions.
“I didn’t hit the ball as good as I hit it
yesterday,” he said. “Today was a little bit
scrambling... but I got it up-and-down
quite a few times, and that kept the round
going. The thing is, if you miss the fairway,
you can’t even stop it with a wedge out of
the rough.”
Goosen, who has struggled to regain full
fitness since back surgery in 2012, said he
was excited to be in contention.
“It’s been such a long time,” he said.
“Who knows how my game is going to
hold up, but I’m feeling good.”
For Moore, the difficult conditions
made his closing bogey a little easier to
swallow. “It was a great, solid round of
golf,” Moore said. “The greens are so firm
and so bouncy. I hit a handful of what I
would say are as good of shots as I could
possibly hit the last couple of days and end
up with 45-footers.”
Defending champion Bubba Watson,
whose win here last year proved a springboard to a second Masters title, carved out
a two-under 69 to head a group on threeunder 139. He was joined by England’s Paul
Casey (69), rising US star Jordan Spieth (70),
Derek Fathauer (73) and JB Holmes (69).
Busch suspended
after domestic
violence ruling
New York
ASCAR suspended
driver Kurt Busch
indefinitely on Friday
following a Delaware
court ruling that found the
2004 Sprint Cup champion
had likely physically abused
his ex-girlfriend.
The suspension means
Busch will have to sit out NASCAR’s premier event, the Daytona 500, to be run today.
“Given the serious nature of
the findings and conclusions
made by the Commissioner of
the Family Court of the State
of Delaware, NASCAR has indefinitely suspended driver
Kurt Busch, effective immediately,” NASCAR said in a statement. “He will not be allowed
to race nor participate in any
NASCAR activities until further notice.”
Kent County Family Court
Commissioner David Jones,
who on Monday granted a protective order to Busch’s girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, wrote
on Friday that Busch “more
likely than not...committed an
act of abuse.”
Driscoll, 37, said Busch
grabbed her by the neck inside
his motorhome at Dover International Speedway in Delaware on Sept. 26 and repeatedly hit her head against a wall.
Busch has denied the charges, testifying last month that
he cupped Driscoll’s cheeks
but never smashed her head
against a wall.
“We are extremely disap-
pointed that NASCAR has
suspended Kurt Busch and we
plan an immediate appeal,”
said Busch’s lawyer Rusty
Hardin. “We assure everyone,
including NASCAR, that this
action against Mr. Busch will
turn out to be a travesty of
justice, apparent to all, as this
story continues to unfold.”
The Delaware attorney general’s office will have to determine whether it will seek
criminal charges against the
36-year-old Busch.
One of Busch’s chief sponsors, Chevrolet, wasted little
time in cutting the driver loose.
“Chevrolet has suspended its
relationship with Kurt Busch
indefinitely,” Jim Campbell,
Chevrolet vice president of
motorsports and performance
vehicles, said in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor the events surrounding Mr.
Busch and are prepared to take
additional action if necessary.”
League had been criticized
for being lenient on domestic
abuse and NASCAR is just one
of several sports organizations
taking a second look at how it
handles such crimes.
“Mr. Busch and his attorney
continue to deny the event and
continue in their crusade to
destroy (Driscoll’s) reputation
despite the courts well reasoned decision,” Driscoll’s attorney, Mark Dycio, said.
“It is time Mr. Busch come
to terms with his well documented anger issues and apologize to Ms. Driscoll for both
the assault and his continued
victimization of her.”
Ko stays ahead in Australia
Newly-crowned world number one Lydia
Ko shot a one-under-par 72 to retain a
share of the lead heading into the final
round of the women’s Australian Open in
Melbourne, the third event on this year’s
LPGA Tour, yesterday. The 17-year-old
from New Zealand had three birdies and
two bogeys to finish at seven-under on a
hot and humid day at Royal Melbourne.
“You hit in on to the green and you have
this humongous break,” Ko said. “It’s tough
in every aspect ... it does feel like a major.”
Ko finished the round tied with another
teen, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, who also
shot 72 after starting her day with a bogey
on the first hole.
South Korea’s Amy Yang carded a 70 to
be outright third, one shot behind the leading pair at six-under while Juliette Granada
of Paraguay and Australia’s Katherine Kirk
were a further two shots back.
Both shot rounds of 70 with Granada
reeling off four birdies in her last 11 holes
after making a double bogey on the parthree fifth and Kirk making five bogeys in
six holes on the back nine.
South Korea’s Jang Ha-na, who had
started the day level with Ko and Jutanugarn, fell four shots behind after a 76.
Less than three weeks ago, Ko became
the youngest golfer to hold top spot in the
world rankings when she tied for second
place at the LPGA’s season-opening event
in Florida. Tiger Woods had previously held
the record when he reached number one in
1997 at 21, while Shin Ji-yai held the women’s record after reaching top spot in 2010
aged 22.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch (left) with ex-girlfriend Patricia.
Gordon aims to bid
goodbye with win
Daytona Beach, Florida
eff Gordon will try to
make his final Daytona 500 a champagne
soaked party today but
if he is to win the Great American Race for a fourth time he
will be chased to Victory Lane
by stock car’s biggest names.
The front of the grid for today’s NASCAR showcase is
a who’s who of the stock car
world packed with former
500 winners and Sprint Cup
Gordon will start from pole
but will be surrounded by
Hendrick Motorsports team
mates with six-time series
champion and twice Daytona
winner Jimmie Johnson lining up alongside him on Row 1
with defending champion Dale
Earnhardt Jr. in his rearview
mirror starting from Row 2.
“This year I think all these
thoughts of my whole career
kind of coming into one moment, one season,” said the
43-year old Gordon, who announced earlier this would be
his final Daytona 500. “I think
if I win anywhere it’s going to
be kind of like that this year.
“To do it in the Daytona 500
would be unbelievable, almost
surreal for me to even think
about it right now. On Sunday,
when I get up that morning,
think about that day, that will
come into my mind.”
Title double for Abdul Qadar, Abel Villaren, Sunidhi Shenoy at Qatar Open badminton
Winners of various categories of the Qatar Open badminton tournament, which concluded recently, pose for a group photograph. Mohamed Yehya Abdul Qadar won the
men’s singles and boys’ singles U-17 titles, while the men’s doubles title was won by
the pair of Jubin John and Pramod Kumar. The mixed doubles honour was bagged
by Haresh Poliyath and Abel Villaren. Villaren also paired up with Leslie Anne to win
the women’s doubles title. Sunidhi Shenoy won the girls U-17 and U-14 singles titles.
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
PSG beat Toulouse
to go top in Ligue 1
‘There have been occasions when we had the chance to go top and didn’t take it’
Paris Saint-Germain’s French midfielder Adrien Rabiot
(R) is congratuled by Paris Saint-Germain’s Uruguayan
forward Edinson Cavani after scoring a goal during
the French L1 match against Toulouse at the Parc des
Princes stadium in Paris yesterday. (AFP)
went top of the Ligue 1
table for the first time
this season yesterday
as teenage midfielder Adrien
Rabiot scored twice in a 3-1 win
against Toulouse.
Rabiot struck in each half at
the Parc des Princes and Thiago
Silva added the third goal after
Wissam Ben Yedder had pulled
one back for the visitors.
The result allowed Laurent
Blanc’s side to climb from third
place above both Marseille and
Lyon into top spot as they extended their unbeaten run to six
league games and 11 matches in
all competitions.
PSG are a point clear of Lyon,
although OL need just a draw at
home to Nantes today to go top
of the table again, while Marseille can move level on points
with the capital club if they win
at Saint-Etienne today.
“There have been three or
four occasions when we had the
chance to go top and didn’t take
it. Maybe it’s a sign,” said Blanc.
“It is only provisional but
maybe there has been a collective understanding that we can
no longer afford to drop any
“It is always positive to be top
and 52 points after 26 matches
is an average of two per match.
At that rhythm we will not be far
away from the title.
“Despite some imperfections in our game, struggling to
negotiate some home matches
and the loss of points before and
after Champions League games,
we are still there and it is very
Paris had been boosted by
their display in drawing 1-1 with
Chelsea in the first leg of their
Champions League last-16 tie
on Tuesday, although Blanc’s
side were missing a host of regulars due to injury and suspension against Toulouse.
The injured Lucas, Thiago
Motta, Yohan Cabaye and Serge
Aurier were joined on the sidelines by the banned Marco Verratti and David Luiz.
However, Javier Pastore
made his first start since the
end of January after injury and
Rabiot also came into the lineup. And it was the 19-yearold, who had a spell on loan at
Toulouse two years ago, who
brought the game to life after
a quiet start with the opening
goal in the 27th minute.
Pastore’s low ball from the
right was laid off by Zlatan
Ibrahimovic for Rabiot, who
dispatched a beautifully controlled first-time shot from
the edge of the box into the left
corner of the net.
Silva headed wide when unmarked as Paris missed a great
chance to extend their lead
Bring on
says Juve
coach Allegri
uventus are brimming
with confidence ahead of
taking their first step towards a possible Champions League last eight spot when
they host Borussia Dortmund
on Tuesday, coach Massimiliano
Allegri said.
Juve warmed up for their last
16 first leg against the Bundesliga side with a hard-fought 2-1
win over Atalanta in Turin on
Friday when Andrea Pirlo hit
the winner on the stroke of halftime.
It left Juve 10 points clear of
Roma, who visit Verona on Sunday, and means they will hold at
least a seven-point lead ahead
of their meeting in Rome next
Despite being held to two
draws in two of their three previous league games, Juve remain
firm favourites for a fourth consecutive scudetto, and Allegri
says there will be no fear ahead
of Tuesday’s clash in Turin.
“This is a key period in the
season, but we’re coming
through it nicely. It’s satisfying
to win these kind of games because it keeps your feet on the
ground,” he said.
“For Tuesday’s game we’re
in great form. I’m not worried
about the Champions League, in
fact we’re full of confidence.”
Dortmund visit Juventus Stadium looking to set aside mediocre league form to end Juve’s 40-
game unbeaten streak at home in
all competitions.
In the Bundesliga, they moved
further away from the danger
zone thanks to a 3-2 win away
to VfB Stuttgart on Friday but
overall it has been a far from successful season for Jurgen Klopp’s
If the Germans are to capitalise on any of Juve’s weaknesses,
they could do so by focusing on
defence and trying to hit the
Italians on the counter-attack
and at setpieces.
The latter two aspects remain
Juve’s Achilles’ heel: Atalanta
got off the mark on Friday when
Guilio Migliaccio rose to head
Urby Emanuelson’s corner past
Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve goal.
Juve hung on for the win after Pirlo netted six minutes after
Fernando Llorente had levelled
for the hosts, but Allegri admitted it was a far from easy three
“It was a difficult game, Atalanta defended well and we left
ourselves exposed to a few counter-attacks. We conceded from
a corner, as we did against Milan (two weeks ago) and I wasn’t
happy about that at all,” he said.
“Before the game I’d warned
about the danger of Migliaccio.
When the ball is in the air he
usually gets his head on the end
of it. And that’s what happened
in the end.
“It goes to show there are few
easy games. You can’t always
win 3-0, but it was a key win because it’s a delicate moment in
the championship.”
soon after, before Salvatore
Sirigu was called into action
at the other end to keep out
an Abel Aguilar header from
Etienne Didot’s cross.
The hosts extended their lead
just three minutes after the restart as Rabiot stabbed in from
close range after superb work
by Pastore on the right flank.
On a bitterly cold afternoon
in Paris, Toulouse reduced the
deficit soon after when Ben
Yedder converted after Aleksandar Pesic had headed on
a free-kick. It was an eighth
league goal of the season, but
first since early November, for
Ben Yedder, who had come off
the bench for the injured Didot
late in the first half.
However, unlike last week-
end—when PSG threw away a
two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at
home to Caen—the defending champions held on to their
advantage and wrapped up the
points on 74 minutes when Silva headed in a Jean-Christophe
Bahebeck free-kick.
Elswhere, the game between
Evian and Lorient was called off
because of snow in Annecy, in
the shadow of the Alps. Monaco
warmed up for their Champions
League trip to Arsenal in midweek by winning 1-0 at Nice in
the Cote d’Azur derby on Friday
night.The principality side had
Aymen Abdennour sent off in the
first half but snatched all three
points thanks to a late Bernardo
Silva strike to move up to fourth
in the table.
Bayern run riot again to extend lead
and Arjen Robben both
scored twice as Bayern
Munich stretched their
lead to 11 points at the top of the
German Bundesliga following a
crushing 6-0 win at 10-man Paderborn yesterday.
The title holders were held
scoreless by Shakhtar Donetsk in
the Champions League on Tuesday but they have now scored 14
goals in two league matches after
tearing apart a Paderborn side that
started the day in 13th position.
Lewandowksi’s first-half double
on his return to the starting lineup got Bayern on their way, while
Robben is now the league’s top
scorer after getting his 15th and
16th goals of the season.
Franck Ribery and Mitchell
Weiser were also on the mark as
Bayern scored four times in the
second half after the home team
had Florian Hartherz sent off.
Lewandowski beat home
‘keeper Lukas Kruse from Robben’s pass on 24 minutes and the
Polish striker got his 10th league
goal of the season eight minutes
before half-time when he turned
home Ribery’s low centre.
Any hope of a fightback by the
home side disappeared when
Hartherz was sent off on 63 minutes. The Paderborn defender
had collided with Robben in
the area and the Dutch winger
picked himself up to slot home
from the penalty spot.
Ribery fired home from inside
the box with 18 minutes left before substitute Weiser made it
five with a clever lob over Kruse.
Robben completed the scoring
from another Ribery cross.
Meanwhile, Werder Bremen
are still unbeaten since the winter break after Sebastian Proedl
got an injury-time equaliser for a
1-1 draw at fourth-placed Schalke. Werder, who started the day
in eighth, had been looking for a
sixth league win in succession.
But they fell behind on 61 minutes when Max Meyer’s weak
effort was spilled into the corner
by goalkeeper Raphael Wolf.
However, Proedl climbed
above Schalke keeper Timon
Wellenreuther to nod home
from a free-kick two minutes
into stoppage time. There was
late drama in Augsburg too as
goalkeeper Marwin Hitz stabbed
home in the fourth minute of injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw
against Bayer Leverkusen.
The visitors had dominated
the first half but only had Josip
Drmic’s eighth-minute goal to
show for it. And Leverkusen
were made to pay when Brazilian attacker Caiuby was left unmarked in the box to poke home
his first goal for Augsburg after
59 minutes. A deflected shot
from Stefan Reinartz looked
to have won it for Leverkusen
but they failed to clear a corner
and Hitz volleyed in from close
range. He becomes the first goalkeeper to score a Bundesliga goal
from open play since Frank Rost
for Bremen in March 2002.
Elsewhere, Marvin Schmidt’s
reign as manager of Mainz 05 got
off to a dream start as they came
from behind to beat Eintracht
Frankfurt 3-1 in the Rhine-Main
Third bottom Freiburg were
held to a 1-1 draw by mid-table
Hoffenheim after a thumping
strike from Kevin Volland cancelled out Immanuel Hoehn’s
goal. Goals from Pierre-Emerick
Aubameyang, Ilkay Gundogan
and Marco Reus saw Borussia
Dortmund warm up for their
Champions League clash with
Juventus by winning 3-2 at bottom club VfB Stuttgart.
Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben (R) and Franck Ribery celebrate with Robert Lewandowski after he scored
a goal during their Bundesliga match against Paderborn in Paderborn yesterday. (Reuters)
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Chelsea stumble
lets champions
Man City close in
‘I think we created enough chances. We were the dominant side in both halves’
David Silva scores the fourth goal for Manchester City
against Newcastle United in Manchester yesterday. (AFP)
Barca slump
to stunning
home defeat
by Malaga
squandered the chance
to go top of La Liga after crashing to a shock
1-0 home defeat by Malaga yesterday.
The stage was set for the
Catalan side to move two points
ahead of Real Madrid, who face
Elche on Sunday, but they lacked
the slick link-up play that had
brought them 11 wins a row.
Seventh-placed Malaga took
a surprise lead after Dani Alves
tried to nonchalantly side-foot
volley a back-pass but Juanmi
nipped in and rounded keeper
Claudio Bravo before slotting
into an empty net after seven minutes. Lionel Messi had
scored 12 goals in the previous
eight games but he was unable to
provide the spark as Barca dominated the possession but could
not find a way past a steadfast
Malaga defence.
“It wasn’t the best game not
only from Leo but all the team,”
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets told reporters.
“We needed to create more
chances and goals but it wasn’t
possible. We are on the right lines
but the early goal was a big blow
and then after that they (Malaga)
were very solid at the back.”
Barca remained a point off
Real at the top while later on
Saturday third-placed Atletico
Madrid, seven points off the
pace, are at home to Almeria and
Valencia, three points behind
them, are away at Cordoba.
Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez were all in Barca’s starting
lineup as coach Luis Enrique
decided not to rest any of his
star forwards ahead of the trip to
Manchester City in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
“We will face a different
type of team in the Champions
League. It will be a difficult game
but we need to keep going and
playing the way we are doing,”
Busquets added.
It was a rash decision from
Alves that led to the opening goal
but Barca nearly hit back immediately through Rafinha whose
drive from the edge of the area
was cleared off the line.
The expected onslaught from
Barca never materialised and
most surprising was the performance of Messi who has
looked sharp in recent weeks but
gave the ball away repeatedly.
Substitute Pedro Rodriguez
wasted a late chance to grab an
equaliser when his shot from inside the area hit the side netting.
A late 2-1 win at bottom
team Cordoba keeps Valencia in
fourth place in the Spanish Liga.
Andres Gomes gave Valencia
the lead in the 38th minute only
for Nabil Ghilas to level for Cordoba from a disputed penalty 16
minutes from time.
Malaga’s players celebrate after defeating Barcelona at
the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona yesterday. (AFP)
helsea’s week to forget
ended with a day to forget yesterday as their
advantage at the Premier
League summit was trimmed to
five points by resurgent champions Manchester City.
Tarnished by the incident
this week that saw a group of
the club’s fans prevent a black
man from boarding a Paris
Metro train while chanting racist songs, Chelsea were held to
a frustrating 1-1 draw by lowly
Ben Mee claimed an 81stminute equaliser for Burnley
after Nemanja Matic had been
sent off for lashing out at Ashley
Barnes and City took full advantage by cruising to a 5-0 home
win over Newcastle United.
‘Equality Day’, Chelsea warmed
up in T-shirts bearing antidiscrimination logos and took
a 14th-minute lead when Branislav Ivanovic scored after a
weaving run from Eden Hazard.
It was the Serbian defender’s
second goal in two matches following his equalising header
in the 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-
Germain and seemed destined
to restore a sense of normality
to Stamford Bridge.
But after his countryman
Matic was shown a 70thminute red card for retaliating
when Barnes caught him on the
shin with an ugly challenge, Mee
headed home Kieran Trippier’s
left-wing corner to equalise.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho felt his side should have
been awarded four penalties,
telling his post-match interviewer: “There are four moments of the game where you
can write the story: minutes 30,
33, 43 and 69.
“Don’t ask me more questions. I can’t go through the
incidents. I am punished when
I refer to these situations and I
don’t want to be punished.”
While Mourinho seethed,
City set about dismantling
Newcastle in a sparkling performance that set them up perfectly for Tuesday’s Champions
League visit of Barcelona.
Edin Dzeko won a penalty
inside 30 seconds after being
clipped by Vurnon Anita and
Sergio Aguero scored from the
spot to put City ahead.
Samir Nasri stretched City’s
lead before Dzeko added a glorious third in the 21st minute,
Aston Villa . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Crystal Palace . . . . . . 1
Hull City. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Sunderland. . . . . . . . . 0
Swansea City. . . . . . . .2
Manchester City . . . .5
Stoke City. . . . . . . . . . . 2
Burnley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Arsenal . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
QPR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
West Bromwich. . . . 0
Manchester Utd . . . . 1
Newcastle Utd . . . . . 0
Manchester City26
Manchester Utd26
Southampton 25
Totten. Hotspur 25
West Ham Utd 25
Swansea City 26
Stoke City
Newcastle Utd 25
Crystal Palace 26
W Brom Albion 26
Hull City
Sunderland 26
Qns P Rangers 26
18 Burnley
Aston Villa
Leicester City 25
F A Pts
22 60
25 55
29 48
26 47
17 46
34 43
29 42
28 38
34 37
34 36
37 32
35 27
37 27
34 27
35 26
36 25
45 22
44 22
36 22
40 17
chesting down a raking pass
from David Silva and steering a
left-foot shot past Tim Krul.
Silva got in on the act with a
brilliant quick-fire brace early
in the second half and Wilfried
Bony gave City’s fans further
reasons to cheer when he came
on to make his debut.
Arsenal leapfrog United
United lost momentum in the
battle for Champions League
places after seeing a 19-game
unbeaten run come to an end in
a 2-1 defeat at Swansea City.
Ander Herrera put United
ahead in the 28th minute, but Ki
Sung-yueng swiftly equalised
and Swansea completed a first
league double over their opponents when Jonjo Shelvey’s shot
flicked in off Bafetimbi Gomis in
the 73rd minute.
“Today we were the unlucky
team,” said United manager
Louis van Gaal. “I think we
created enough chances. We
were the dominant side in both
Arsenal capitalised on United’s slip-up with a 2-1 win at
Crystal Palace that saw Arsene
Wenger’s side climb to third
place in the table. Santi Cazorla opened the scoring with
an eighth-minute penalty after
Pape Souare was adjudged to
have fouled Danny Welbeck.
Olivier Giroud added a second on the stroke of half-time,
following up after Julian Speroni had saved from Welbeck, before Glenn Murray tapped in a
stoppage-time consolation for
Palace. United are also under
threat from fifth-place Southampton, who will knock Van
Gaal’s side out of the Champions League places if they avoid
defeat at home to Liverpool today.
Elsewhere, Tim Sherwood’s
tenure as Aston Villa manager
began with a cruel 2-1 loss at
home to Stoke City that saw his
new side slip below Burnley to
Scott Sinclair headed Villa
in front in the 20th minute, but
Mame Biram Diouf equalised
and Victor Moses gave Stoke
victory with a stoppage-time
penalty after Ron Vlaar was
dismissed for felling Diouf.
Perennial troublemaker Joey
Barton was sent off for flinging a hand towards Tom Huddlestone’s nether regions as
Queens Park Rangers lost 2-1 at
relegation rivals Hull City.
Nikica Jelavic volleyed Hull
ahead and although Charlie Austin headed in a 39thminute equaliser shortly after Barton had been given his
marching orders, Dame N’Doye
gave Hull victory with an 89thminute header. In the day’s
other game, Sunderland and
West Bromwich Albion played
out a drab 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Under-fire Ancelotti tells Madrid ‘I am here to stay’
eal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti does not believe his
future at the club depends
on him winning a trophy this
season and says: “I am here to stay”.
Madrid finished 2014 on the crest
of a wave, having set a new Spanish
record of 22 straight wins, but less
than two months later after a turbulent spell for the European champions, Ancelotti’s future is already being
The Madrid press have reported that
club president Florentino Perez has
been unhappy with Ancelotti’s preparation.
Yet speaking at a press conference
yesterday, Ancelotti responded: “I
don’t think that my contract renewal
depends on whether we win a trophy
this season.
“At the end of the season I think it
would be a good moment to talk about
the renewal but if that doesn’t happen
then it is not a problem as I have a contract until June 2016 and I am here to
“My objective is always to win.
When I arrived I knew that I had to win
and in all the teams that I have trained
the objective has been to win.”
Real have got back on track with victories over Deportivo La Coruna last
weekend and Schalke in the Champions League but there is still an open
wound following their 4-0 mauling by
city rivals Atletico Madrid a fortnight
Much of the attention after that defeat centred on the poor performance
of Cristiano Ronaldo, and his subsequent birthday party, but the critics
have since turned on Ancelotti.
Madrid face Elche away today.
While Ancelotti remains very popular among the players, he does not have
as strong a relationship with the board
and Spanish newspaper El Pais claims
Perez would prefer former coach Jose
Mourinho, now at Chelsea.
Ancelotti was unusually animated
when Marcelo scored the second in the
victory over Schalke last Wednesday
but denied it was due to criticism he
had received.
“I decided to go on the pitch to hug
Marcelo because he scored a goal with
his right foot. It was to celebrate the
goal and not for a personal reason,”
said the Italian.
“There is a good relationship between us (in the dressing room). There
is a lot of respect towards my work and
that of the players.”
Gulf Times
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sadd maintain
slim lead with 2-1
win over Arabi
El Jaish suffer a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Al Ahli
Al Sadd’s Hassan al-Haydos (facing camera) congratulates
teammate Khalfan Ibrahim after the latter scored a goal
against Al Arabi yesterday. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil
By Sports Reporter
l Sadd maintained their
slim one-point lead over
Lekhwiya in the Qatar
Stars League after a tense
2-1 win over Al Arabi at the Jassem
bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
With the title almost certain to
go either Al Sadd’s or Lekhwiya’s
way – both teams being way ahead
of the pack in the rankings – neither can afford slip ups as the tournament enters a crucial phase with
eight matches remaining.
In the last five years these two
teams have played 10 times against
each other in the Qatar Stars League,
both teams have won four times
each with two matches ending in a
draw. But yesterday, Al Sadd broke
clear with the fifth win, courtesy of
goals from talisman Khalfan Ibrahim
and Hassan al-Haydos in each half.
Al Sadd dominated the exchanges
but also missed a few chances to increase the margin of their win, while
Al Arabi, too, could have caused an
upset with some luck.
Al Sadd had a good chance to go
ahead early in the match when a poor
clearance by the Al Arabi goalkeeper
Rajab Hamza saw Khalfan pounce on
the ball and pass to Abdulkarim Hassan. Hassan, however, hurried with
his shot and sent the ball crashing
into the post from close.
Two minutes later, Khalfan’s
brother Ahmed, playing for Al Ara-
bi, was left unmarked in the penalty area, but he could only find the
side netting with his shot.Al Sadd
finally broke the deadlock through
Khalfan in the 43rd minute, thanks
to a fine effort on the left flank by
al-Haydos who speedily cut in and
deftly avoided a defender before
passing the ball to Khalfan who did
the needful with a clever placement
to the low left corner of the net.
Al-Haydos was in the thick of
the action later in the 64th minute,
burying a low shot into the net off a
pass from Grafite for Al Sadd’s second goal.
Al Arabi, however, did not give
up the fight and continued pressing
forward in the hope of scoring only
their sixth win in 17 matches.
But although a fine header by
Ahmed Shahdad off a corner by
Boualem Khoukhi in the 87th
minute gave them some consolation, Al Sadd held on to their lead
to come away with three crucial
Earlier El Jaish suffered a shock
2-1 defeat at the hands of Al Ahli.
It was the second straight defeat
for the Armymen, who had crashed
out of the Asian Champions League
earlier this week. Wagner Ribeiro put El Jaish ahead in the sixth
minute but Dioko Kaluyituka and
Pedro Corriea found the target late
in the game to give Al Ahli their
eighth win in 18 matches.Al Ahli
are now fifth on the table with 26
points behind Al Sadd, Lekhwiya,
El Jaish and Qatar Sports Club.
Action from El Jaish-Al Ahali match
Celtic gunning
for revenge
eltic striker Leigh Griffiths says the Hoops are
out for revenge when
Hamilton Academical
come calling at Celtic Park today.
Newly-promoted Hamilton
caused a major shock in October when they claimed a 1-0 win
over the Scottish champions their first victory at Celtic Park
since 1938.
The Hoops have lost just one
match since that defeat, though,
and have won all six of their Premiership fixtures in 2015 to move
top of the table.
Confidence is also high in the
Celtic camp following their impressive fightback in Thursday’s
3-3 draw with Italian giants Internazionale in the first leg of
their Europa League last-32 tie.
And striker Griffiths hopes
his side’s great run of results can
continue against a Hamilton side
who are without a win in their
past seven matches.
“I’m sure the boys will be up
for the Hamilton game,” the
Scotland international said.
“They came here the last time
and beat us, so we’ll be looking to
avenge that result.
“We’ve been going great in the
league and the draw with Inter
Milan proves that we’ve come a
long way since that defeat.
“We go into Sunday all guns
blazing and hopefully get a result.” The Hoops could find
themselves on level terms with
Aberdeen at the top of the table
if the Dons can defeat St Mirren
at Pittodrie on Saturday.
Celtic could welcome back
Kris Commons for the match in
Glasgow after a hamstring injury kept him out of the previous
three matches.
However, manager Ronny
Deila will be without defenders Charlie Mulgrew and Mikael
Lustig, who are sidelined with
ankle and knee problems respectively, but Irish striker Anthony
Stokes may be available again after missing the Inter match due
to an internal disciplinary issue.
Hamilton are still searching for their first win under new
player-manager Martin Canning
and midfielder Grant Gillespie
says his side can head to Celtic
Park with no fear.
“Because we have not won in
seven, there are no expectations
on us, even though we won there
the last time,” Gillespie said.
“We will go there and enjoy it,
we will try to get the ball down
and play the way we do and,
hopefully, if we can play as well
as we did the last time then you
never know.”
Nigel Hasselbaink could be in
line for his second Hamilton debut, nearly four years after leaving the club for St Mirren, and
fellow striker Dougie Imrie will
return from suspension.
Police probe new Chelsea
fan racism claims
British police announced yesterday that they were investigating
reports a group of Chelsea supporters chanted racist songs at a
London train station after returning from Paris earlier this week.
Investigations were already under way after footage emerged
showing Chelsea fans preventing a black man from boarding a Paris
metro train on Tuesday and chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist,
and that’s the way we like it!” A member of the public has now alleged that Chelsea fans made racist chants at St Pancras station on
Wednesday, after returning from watching their side’s 1-1 draw with
Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
“The racist chanting was reported by a member of the public who
was disgusted by the behaviour of the men who had travelled on
the 6.40pm service from Paris Gard du Nord,” said Superintendent
Gill Murray from British Transport Police in a statement.
“The men shouted as they walked through the station having
alighted from the train a short time earlier.
“If you travelled on the train from Paris or were at the station and
have information which can assist our investigation, I would urge
you to get in touch as a matter of urgency.”
Chelsea have banned five people from the club’s Stamford Bridge
ground after an investigation into the incident, which drew
widespread condemnation. Speaking after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with
Burnley in the Premier League, a spokesman said the club were
helping police with their investigation. “Obviously we’re aware that
the British Transport Police have another investigation ongoing,” he
said. “We’re in touch with them and will assist with that in any way
we can.”Chelsea captain John Terry yesterday added his voice to
condemnation of a racist incident involving the club’s supporters in
Paris earlier this week, describing it as ‘unacceptable’. Chelsea have
banned five people from their Stamford Bridge ground after footage
emerged showing fans preventing a black man from boarding a
Paris metro train on Tuesday and chanting racist songs. Writing in
the match programme, Terry said: “Football is a sport for everyone.
That is one of the main reasons why we love it, and what happened
on the Paris Metro was unacceptable.”
Inzaghi desperately seeking ‘Milan-style football’
C Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi believes his injury-plagued side cannot
afford to start thinking of European
football next season as they attempt
to rescue their dismal campaign.
While a Champions League berth appears to
be out of sight after a wretched start to 2015,
fifth place in Serie A and the chance of Europa
League football is still a possibility for 11thplaced Milan.
At a news conference on Saturday, Inzaghi,
reflecting on the injuries that have hampered
the club this season, warned: “We can’t be
thinking about it (fifth place) right now. We
need to take it one game at a time and get back
to playing Milan-style football.”
Rather than “Milan-style football”, though,
fans at the San Siro have had to get used to
unaccustomed struggles for one of European
football’s powerhouses.
At the end of last year, Milan were seventh,
just two points off third and a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifying round.
Now, having managed just five points in
seven games in 2015 — only bottom club Par-
ma have fared worse—they lie 12 points behind
third-placed Napoli. Lazio, in fifth, are seven
points clear of Inzaghi’s men.
As they prepare to face relegation-threatened Cesena on Sunday, Milan’s plight has left
Inzaghi bemoaning the team’s injury woes.
“When 90 percent of our players were available, we were very close to third place. It’s very
difficult to find an identity when you have to
change your line-up week in and week out,” he
said. One of the striking problems for Inzaghi,
such a prolific goalscorer in his day, has been
Milan’s lack of goals. Only once, in their last
eight games, have they managed to score more
than one goal.
“It’s not a question of how many attacking
players I will put on the pitch,” said Inzaghi.
“It would be ideal to score early in the match.
Doing so should allow the team to relax. Fans
have been patient with us but I know how difficult playing in San Siro can be.”
Cesena are second from bottom on sixteen
points but are enjoying their best spell of the
season with wins against Lazio and Parma, as
well as a draw with leaders Juventus, in the last
four weeks.
“It has been the story of our season,” Inzaghi reflected ruefully. “We always seem to play
teams when they are in peak form.”
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Azarenka draws
a tricky opponent
in German Kerber
The top four seeds—Czech Petra Kvitova, defending champion Simona Halep of Romania,
Dane Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland—get first-round byes
By Sports Reporter
he top four seeds at the
$731,000 WTA Qatar Total
Open—top seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic,
second seed and defending champion Simona Halep of Romania, third
seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, and Agnieszka Radwanska of
Poland, who has been seeded fourth
—won’t be seen in action until Tuesday, having given first-round byes by
the organisers.
While defending champion Halep
will open her campaign against the
winner of the opening round match
between France’s Alize Cornet and
a qualifier, Kvitova is likely to face
former world number one Jelena
Jankovic of Serbia in her second round
match. Jankovic too faces a qualifier
in tomorrow’s opening round.
Wozniacki may find it tough, as
she will find either Lucie Safarova of
Czech Republic or veteran Samantha
Stosur of Australia waiting for her on
Radwanska, last year’s finalist
here, too has a tough opener against
the winner of the first-round clash
between Italian Flavia Pennetta and
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The big names who would be seen
in action on the opening day tomorrow are former world number one
Venus Williams of the US, who has
been experiencing a resurgence in
form in recent months.
The seventh seed has been drawn
to meet Casey Dellacqua in her
opening round match.
Rising German Andrea Petkovic,
the sixth seed, has drawn a qualifier
but could go on to meet Wozniacki in
the quarter-finals.
Wild card Victoria Azarenka faces
a tricky opponent in her campaignopener in German eighth seed Angelique Kerber, and if she passes
the opening hurdle, could see Halep
waiting for her in the last eight stage.
Among the notable losers in yesterday’s qualifying were up-andcoming Swiss Belinda Bencic and
promising Serbian Bojana Jovanovski.
While Bencic went down 6-7(4), 6-2,
6-2 to Francesca Schiavone of Italy,
the Serb lost in straight sets to Yulia
Putintseva of Kazhakstan.
Qatar’s Olla Mourad lost to Heather
Watson of Great Britain 6-1, 6-0.
Top seed Halep
struggles past
Pliskova for title
imona Halep struggled
before closing out victory over Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 7-6
(7-4) in the Dubai Classic yesterday to win the 10th title of
her career.
Halep, the top seed, twice
served for the win only to miss
out in a second set featuring
eight breaks of serve including
each of the last six games.
The crowd favourite, supported by scores of loudly
cheering Romanians waving
national flags, finally stopped
the rot as the set went to a tiebreaker, with Halep earning
a third match point 18 minutes after her first. She made
it count, ripping a forehand
down-the-line winner after
one and three-quarter hours.
“This is a big title for me,”
the 2014 Roland Garros finalist
said. “I can only say I’m really
happy for this victory.”
The Romanian, who will
move to third in the world tomorrow, beat an opponent
who came to the court with
144 aces this season.
Halep added the trophy to
the one she took at the start of
the year in Shenzhen.
She finished with just one
ace and seven double-faults—
including one on her second
match point—while Pliskova
was held to just five aces.
“I practised my returns,”
Halep said. “I just did everything I could to win. I didn’t
serve very well but I stayed focused on each point.”
Pliskova, who stands 17-5
this season, said she was
pleased with her fighting effort. “I’m very proud, I put
everything into the match,”
said the player who was treated off-court for what appeared
to beck problems after the
third game of the second set.
The title is the second for
Halep in the Gulf after winning
in Doha last February.
Pliskova was playing in her
eighth WTA final and now
stands 3-5. She came to Dubai
after a semi-final last week in
Antwerp and also played the
Sydney final in January against
Petra Kvitova.
Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania in action against Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada during her first round qualifying singles match of the Qatar Total
Open at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex yesterday. The Romanian won 6-2, 6-2 and will face Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia for a spot in
the main draw. Fatma al-Nabhani of Oman (below) lost to Kirster Flipkens of Belgium 6-0, 6-3 in her qualifier. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil
Simona Halep of Romania (left) poses with her winner’s trophy
next to Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohamed
bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of
the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, after beating Karolina Pliskova of
the Czech Republic in the final yesterday. (AFP)
Stakhovsky knocks out
Wawrinka at Marseille Open
World number seven Stan Wawrinka was sensationally knocked
out of the Marseille Open on Friday as he went down in the
quarter-finals against world number 59 Sergiy Stakhovsky
in three sets. Ukraine’s Stakhovsky carved out a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
victory over the Swiss former Australian Open winner, and now
meets Frenchman Gilles Simon in the semi-finals.
World number 17 Simon shrugged off a slow start to subdue
compatriot Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) and set up a last-four
match-up against Stakhovsky.
In the second semi-final, seventh seed and home favourite
Gael Monfils will play Spaniard Roberto Bautista, the fourth
seed, for a place in the championship match.
Nocturnal Nadal survives to reach Rio semis
Rio de Janeiro
laycourt king Rafael Nadal
battled into the early hours
as he reached the semi-finals
of the Rio Open after beating
Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas yesterday.
Nadal, who will bid this season for
a 10th Roland Garros crown, came
through 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in two hours and
six minutes, after Cuevas was fastest
out of the blocks in a contest lasting
until 3:20am.
The late finish infuriated the world
number three and defending champion, who complained of having to start
a match at just after 1:00am.
“I know it is not the fault of the tournament. It is the fault of the ATP wanting to change a match over (to a different court).
“If it were a Grand Slam where you
get a day and a half (between matches),
then okay,” Nadal said afterwards, reflecting that he would have to be back
in action again in the evening. “I am
going to go off to bed and we’ll see if
I have recovered” for a meeting with
Italian world number 28 Fabio Fognini.
Fognini had kept Nadal waiting to
enter the center court fray as he beat
Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-7
(10/12), 7-6 (11/9) in a three-hour marathon.
Nadal had seen off fellow Spaniard
Pablo Carreno Busta and Brazilian
Thomaz Bellucci to set up his meeting
with Cuevas, but the Mallorcan’s ring
rustiness showed as he conceded the
opening set in 44 minutes.
After trading early breaks, Cuevas
broke in the ninth game and although
the challenger spurned a triple set
point he closed out the fourth opportunity on 44 minutes.
Cuevas sent down six aces but
fourteen-time Grand Slam champion
Nadal’s wiliness and sheer doggedness
reeled him in. Having leveled the contest Nadal wrapped matters up in taking the decider in just 25 minutes.
Also advancing was second seeded
Spaniard David Ferrer who battled past
Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
in just over two hours on court at the
Jockey Club in hot sunshine.
With temperatures hitting 42 degrees C (108 degrees F), both men made
errors before Ferrer finally managed to
find top gear as he gradually wore Monaco down, moving him around the
The ninth-ranked Spaniard broke
Monaco twice and pocketed the opening set with an ace and the Argentine
looked out for the count after dropping
serve again at the outset in the second.
But the 30-year-old Monaco broke
back in the sixth game as he leveled the
That was as good as it got, however,
for the South American veteran as Ferrer upped his game thereafter and finished his rival off with a huge serve.
Ferrer will now face Andreas HaiderMaurer in the semis after Haider-Maurer’s 7-6 (7/4) 1-6, 6-4 win over Brazil’s
Joao Souza.
Big-serving Karlovic
marches on in Florida
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay during their quarter-final clash at the Rio Open. (Reuters)
Delray Beach: Big-serving Croatian Ivo
Karlovic edged a second set tiebreaker to
oust American Steve Johnson 6-2, 7-6 in the
quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open.
Karlovic raced through the first set in 28
minutes but the second was a much tighter affair as he fended off four break points
against the dogged seventh seed.
Fourth seed Karlovic, who served 17 aces to
remain unbroken for the tournament, earned
a semi-final clash with fifth-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who beat Lu Yenhsun of Taiwan 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Karlovic and Mannarino are the highest
remaining seeds in the tournament, following the elimination of third seed Alexandr
Dolgopolov, beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by unseeded American Donald Young in a match that
stretched nearly two hours.
“It was really cold and it wasn’t easy to
move and be aggressive but in the beginning,
I was playing really good. It might be one of
my best sets,” Karlovic said. “Everything that
I hit was in. I was confident in my game.”
In the first evening match, Mannarino also
took a while to warm up but dominated once
he had as Lu struggled on serve in the final
two sets. “In the beginning it was tough to get
my rhythm,” Mannarino said. “The wind was
bearing down and it was really cold.”
For the second time in as many weeks,
Young’s semi-final opponent will be Australian Bernard Tomic, who dispatched 19-yearold Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3
6-1. Young edged Tomic in three sets in the
Memphis Open last Saturday.