INDEX QATAR 2 – 11, 30 – 32 11 REGION ARAB WORLD 12, 13 INTERNATIONAL 14 – 27 28, 29 COMMENT BUSINESS 1 – 6, 18 – 20 CLASSIFIED 7 – 17 SPORTS 1 – 12 SPORT | Page 1 FM inaugurates science campus at Tohoku University West Indies win big to extend Pakistan woes DOW JONES QE NYMEX 18,140.44 12,496.46 50.81 +154.67 +0.86% -65.40 -0.52% -1.02 -1.97% 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 AFP/Reuters Dubai H AMERICA | Weather Military beats back Boko Haram in Rumailah to have new skin disease centre NIGERIA | Unrest d 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. SUNDAY Huge blaze rips through 79-storey Dubai skyscraper InIn brief Brief Winter storm slams Tennessee and Ohio he R is bl TA 978 A 1 Q since GULF TIMES pu 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 Reuters Aden Y 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 ﬂames. 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 buildings. 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 AFP London T 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 agreement.” 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. 2 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR 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 QNA Sendai, Japan H 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. 4 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR 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’ QNA Washington T 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 roots. 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 Foundation. 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 youth. 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 East. Ambassador Mohamed Jaham al-Kuwari. 6 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR 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 T he Hamad Medical Corporation (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 (NCCCR). The six new nurses have recently graduated from a master’s degree programme in 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 with gastro-intestinal (GI) or breast cancer and also those with pain and palliative care needs. 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. Additionally, two new CNSs are expected to graduate by mid of this year, and 12 more are currently receiving training at the UCQ. The six new locally-trained clinical nurse specialists with senior officials from NCCCR. Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 7 QATAR The participants at the Rota’s ToT programme. Rota completes training programme for volunteers T 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 volunteers. 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 migration. 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. 8 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR US envoy tours Msheireb project U S Ambassador 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 Msheireb Downtown 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 project. Smith also expressed her gratitude to al-Mehshadi and the management of Msheireb Properties for their hospitality and complimented them on their continued success. S 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 Emergency Centre at Al Sadd to be expanded H 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 country. 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 building. 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 9 QATAR 400 register for Halal Qatar M ore than 400 participants have 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 beautiful animal’ competition. 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 activities. Registration for participation in the festival concluded on Thursday. The festival will end on March 9. WCMC-Q team publishes study on health websites R 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 Fund. 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 diversity. “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 differences. 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 average. 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 disclosed. 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 al-Sulaiti. 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 troupes. 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. 10 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR Maserati’s ﬁrst standalone showroom inaugurated By Joey Aguilar Staff Reporter A 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 week. 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 Motors. 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 D 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 customers. 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 learning.” 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 I 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 11 QATAR/REGION Houthi militia kills protester Reuters Sanaa H outhi militiamen opened ﬁre on protesters in the central Yemeni city of Ibb yesterday, killing one person and wounding another, activists said. 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. Meanwhile, Yemen’s 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 said. 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 Reuters London A 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 groups. 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. 12 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 ARAB WORLD Egypt minister acquitted of graft charges Reuters Cairo A 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 AFP Beirut R 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 country. 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 said. 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 AFP Baghdad A 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 street. 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 13 ARAB WORLD Rockets target Libya airﬁeld AFP Benghazi R 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 DPA Baghdad I 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. Reuters Kabul N 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 AFP Jerusalem I ‘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 Berlin. 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 House. 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. Snowscape A snow-covered taxi drives past a picture of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in Jbaa village, south Lebanon. 14 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 AFRICA Mugabe turns 91, slowly sheds pariah image Reuters Harare Z 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 Reuters Niamey B 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. Delegations from Britain 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 said. 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 empty. “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 reassuring. “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 AFP Juba A 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 school.” 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 Ababa. 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. Information minister Michael 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 L 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 AFP Mogadishu T 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 15 AMERICAS Canada demands oil trains carry more insurance Tentative deal reached for US West Coast ports Reuters Ottawa Reuters Los Angeles C 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 Friday. 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 level. A 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 producers. 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. Singapore-listed Neptune 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 Reuters 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 statement. 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 said. 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 sides”. 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 A 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 days. 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 2011. 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 berth. “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 phase.” Kristen Stewart makes history Oscar protest planned over lack of diversity AFP Paris AFP Hollywood T frican-American civil 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 Oscars. 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 A 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 disease. 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 time. 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 16 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 ASEAN 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 DPA Phnom Penh A Reuters Jakarta I 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 trafficking. 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 month. 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- Cambodia general arrested over alleged corruption 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 said. 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 AFP Naypyidaw M 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 Naypyidaw. “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 DPA Phnom Penh T 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 building.” “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. Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government has put the ceasefire agreement at the heart of its reforms as the nation prepares for a general election later this year. But the fighting has raised fears those efforts are unravelling. Around the world bike rider dies DPA Bangkok A Chilean man attempting to bike across ﬁve continents in ﬁve years has died after a road accident in Thailand, a news report said yesterday. 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 17 ASIA/AUSTRALASIA Aussies brace for cyclone aftermath Right: Residents queue for fuel at one of the two petrol stations open in Rockhampton. Reuters/DPA Rockhampton, Australia A 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 Coast. 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 said. 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 children. “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 year. 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 AFP Seoul N 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 yesterday. 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) said. 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 Detachment”. 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 island. 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 War. 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 Reuters Shanghai C 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 war. “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 said. 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 18 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 BRITAIN ‘Self-censoring’ scandal roils UK press landscape The loss of credibility could be a huge blow to the press in general Reuters London O 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 approach. 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 schoolgirl. 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 complained. “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 supercars Evening Standard London A 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 Stump”. Concrete company forced to rebrand after drivers abused Evening Standard London A Taylor said drivers had suffered verbal abuse because of the trucks’ logo. 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 1983. 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 criminality.” 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 Veyron. 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 19 BRITAIN Ex-bouncer ‘joins militia against IS’ It appears Britain is now providing fighters to both sides of the conflict Evening Standard London A 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 State)”. “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 themselves.” 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 London T 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 Thursday. 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 out. 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 behind. 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 Woolwich.” A spokeswoman said: “Police were called to Love Lane at around 6.16pm on Friday after reports that a man had been stabbed. “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. Lib-Dem donor plans huge dig at mansion Evening Standard London A 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 Office. 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 pool. 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 London A 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 -5C. 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. 20 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 EUROPE Putin says Russia’s military strength is unmatchable Thousands attend pro-Putin rallies AFP Moscow T 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 loudspeakers. 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 sanctions. “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 Maidan.” 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 separatists. 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 rally. 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 sanctions. 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 week. 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 AFP Istanbul A 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 DPA Paris A verdict in the pimping case against former International Monetary 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 Washington. 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 criminals”. 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 said. 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 minister. 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 Erdogan. 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 AFP Oslo N 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 people. “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 chants. 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 reported. 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 Denmark. “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 other”. $150mn security fund Reuters Copenhagen D 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 records. 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 yesterday. 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 21 EUROPE 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 AFP Zholobok, Ukraine U 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 side. 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 conﬂict. 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 destroyed”. 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. Reuters Kiev/Sakhanka, Ukraine P ro-Russian separatists 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 Mariupol. 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 ceaseﬁre. 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 enemy around Novoazovsk where military hardware, ﬁghters and ammunition are being amassed.” 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 said. 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 analysts. 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 Reuters Paris T 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 work. 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 Reuters Vatican City P People take pictures of Pope Francis with their cellphones yesterday during a special audience for the Cassano allo Jonio diocese at the Vatican. 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 actions. The ‘Ndrangheta, which 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. 22 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 INDIA TRAGEDY POLITICS HEALTH DEPRESSION PROTEST 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 phones. 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 IANS New Delhi T 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 ‘Red’.” 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 community.” 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 IANS Jammu P 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 yesterday. 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 IANS Mumbai S 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 82. 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 said. 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 grounds.” 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 state. VS wants to quit party post, says close aide IANS Alappuzha, Kerala F 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 him” “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 said. 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 23 INDIA Government vows tough action over ministry leak Five company officials sent to police custody by a Delhi court 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. Agencies 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 event. IANS Etawah, Uttar Pradesh O 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 Modi. 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 guests. 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 paperless. 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 IANS New Delhi E 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 him. “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 Agencies New Delhi I 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 future. “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 said. 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 available.” “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. 24 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 LATIN AMERICA Year of the sheep Venezuelans line up to buy dollars Agencies Caracas V 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 AFP Caracas C 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 States. 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 ago. 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 plot. 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 challenges. 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 transition”. 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 elections?” 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 analyst. 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 Chavez. Kirchner condemns judiciary over rally Reuters Buenos Aires A 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 courts. “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 said. 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 States”. 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 unfounded.” The mayor’s arrest prompted isolated protests in the capital and fresh violence in the opposition stronghold of San Cristobal in western Venezuela, witnesses said. “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 means. 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 account. 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 currency. 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 Caracas. 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 recession. Cuban govt pledges Internet access for all Reuters Havana I 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 media. 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 pornography. 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 25 PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN Pakistan, Sri Lanka to sign civil nuclear deal in March Internews Islamabad S 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 place. 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 A AFP Kabul P 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 forces. 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”. “That’s something we 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 initiative. 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 leaders. 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 AFP Kabul Washington is reviewing a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by 2016 to ensure that “progress sticks” after more than a decade of war resident Barack Obama’s new Pentagon chief said yesterday the United States was seriously considering slowing the pace of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as the country faces a growing Taliban insurgency. 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 commanders. 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 Ghani. 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 India. 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 nations. Afghanistan “appreciates 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, said. 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 cameras. Royal wedding held for Pakistani boy, Indian girl Internews/IANS Islamabad T 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 family. Around 15,000 guests had attended the ‘tika’ ceremony in Amarkot. Despite how the society looks at India-Pakistan relationship, the bride says she is stepping into the new phase with an open mind. The bride’s father Man Singh Kanota said it was an arranged marriage. 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. 26 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 PHILIPPINES Duterte’s clamour for federalism gets support By Manny Pinol Manila Times T 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 PDP-Laban. “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 ills. 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 Marwan. 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 wealth.Fongwan, another 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 Luzon. 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 M 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 power. She said this scenario is pure ﬁction. “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 post. 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 extra-constitutional means 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 them.” PEACE PROCESS Palace slams reports on ‘buying back’ SAF arms By Llanesca Panti Manila Times M 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 month. 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 added. 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 said. 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 said. 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 27 SRI LANKA/BANGLADESH/NEPAL Indian leader assures Hasina on Teesta deal breakthrough IANS Dhaka W 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 report. “Mamata Banerjee has assured our prime minister to work out a solution that protects the interests of both West Bengal and Bangladesh,” Chowdhury said. 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 agenda. 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 crucial. 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 Yamuna. 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 February-end. 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 Bengal. 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 martyrs. “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 Dhaka The World’s End cliff is a key tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Honeymooner survives fall from World’s End AFP Colombo S 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 yesterday. 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. B 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 S 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 statement. 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 statement. 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 IANS Dhaka B angladesh’s Jamaat-eIslami leader Mohammad Kamaruzzaman 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 IANS Colombo 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,” Kamaruzzaman’s lawyer Tazul Islam said yesterday, according to a report in bdnews24.com. “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 ﬁndings. The ICT sentenced 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 Independence. 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. INDIA CAN’T DUMP RADIOACTIVE WASTE: The Indo-Lanka civil nuclear agreement would not permit India to dump its radioactive waste in Sri Lankan territory, a senior minister has said. “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. 28 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 COMMENT Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed Production Editor: C P Ravindran P.O.Box 2888 Doha, Qatar [email protected] Telephone 44350478 (news), 44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery) Fax 44350474 GULF TIMES 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 budget. “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 Tokyo. 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 spending. 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 growth To Advertise [email protected] Display Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811 Classified Telephone 44466609 Fax 44418811 Subscription [email protected] 2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved 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 Reuters A 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 emotions. 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 artlessness 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 proud. 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 Hollywood. 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 B 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 prizes. 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 evening. 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 others. Security is, needless to say, a key concern. 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 evening. 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 29 COMMENT 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 A 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 wrong? 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 retracted. 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 area. 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 washed. 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. Jackson [email protected] A major loss to Indian cinema Dear Sir, TODAY 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 languages. High: 26 C Low : 16 C Strong wind and high seas MONDAY 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. High: 21 C Low : 14 C Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal (e-mail address supplied) Cloudy Please send us your letters TUESDAY By e-mail [email protected] Fax 44350474 Or Post Letters to the Editor Gulf Times P O Box 2888 Doha, Qatar High: 22 C Low : 14 C Sunny Fishermen’s forecast OFFSHORE DOHA Wind: NW 20-25/30 KT Waves: 7-9/12 Feet INSHORE DOHA Wind: NW 18-25/30 KT Waves: 1-3/4 Feet 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 Baghdad Live issues Dubai Kuwait City Manama Muscat Feeding kids is serious stuff By Barbara Quinn The Monterey County Herald/TNS O 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 Letters 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 country. 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 elections. 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 ourselves. 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, please.” 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 run!” 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] Riyadh Tehran Weather today P Cloudy Sunny P Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy P Cloudy Sunny P Cloudy Max/min 27/16 17/06 23/17 14/07 19/13 27/19 18/05 07/-1 Weather tomorrow Cloudy Sunny Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Sunny P Cloudy Max/min 24/16 19/06 21/17 19/07 20/15 23/18 18/06 07/00 Weather tomorrow H Rain M Cloudy M Sunny Rain & Snow Cloudy Cloudy Rain M Sunny S Showers Showers S T Stomrs P Cloudy M Cloudy P Cloudy Rain & Snow M Sunny P Cloudy Showers S T Storms M Sunny P Cloudy S Showers Rain Max/min 16/11 19/14 34/25 04/01 22/17 29/18 32/23 30/20 18/16 09/07 31/23 28/20 08/04 32/21 03/-1 29/16 -6/-13 10/04 32/20 07/-3 33/24 28/19 16/03 Around the world Athens Beirut Bangkok Berlin Cairo Cape Town Colombo Dhaka Hong Kong Istanbul Jakarta Karachi London Manila Moscow New Delhi New York Paris Sao Paulo Seoul Singapore Sydney Tokyo Weather today H Rain Sunny Sunny Cloudy M Sunny Sunny P Cloudy Sunny P Cloudy M Sunny P Cloudy M Sunny Rain M Sunny P Cloudy Sunny Fog M Sunny M Sunny P Cloudy P Cloudy P Cloudy Cloudy Max/min 15/13 16/09 32/24 07/00 20/13 29/16 33/23 28/19 20/16 10/07 33/23 34/19 08/04 30/21 03/00 28/16 08/-6 09/06 30/19 05/-2 34/25 27/20 11/09 30 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR Doha Bank honours 11 Qatar schools for sustainable practices D 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 challenges. 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 Programme. 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 garden. 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 footprint. Dr R Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank, said: “The challenges of food security, eradicating extreme poverty, and providing enough water supply remain in the achievement of sustainable development.” He said banks should earmark risk weighted capital towards “green banking” or “clean development mechanism” or sustainable development projects taking into consideration the carbon emissions. “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 projects. Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 31 QATAR Programmes launched to instil values in students Q A honorary shield from QRC is presented to the QC official in recognition of the support. QC backs QRC in disaster preparedness initiative Q atar Red Crescent (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 Development Department 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 emergencies. 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 non-government 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 supervisors. 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. 32 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 QATAR Nakilat holds its annual forum for national staff M 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 T 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 programme. 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 O rganisers of the 12th Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (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 (QNCC). “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 Barcelona. 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 exhausted.” 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). STUDENTS FIGHT | Page 3 NEW CATALYST | Page 5 Turkey walks into middle income trap Indonesia eyes Islamic ‘mega-bank’ Sunday, February 22, 2015 Jumada I 3, 1436 AH GULF TIMES LABOUR ROW WITH SHELL: Page 20 BUSINESS US oil workers’ union expands biggest plant strike since 1980 Russia gets 2nd junk rating from Moody’s after S&P hit Bloomberg Moscow/New York R 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 January. “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 statement. 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 estimates. 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 Doha. 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 3.04%. “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 M 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 skills with 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. 2 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 BUSINESS Ahlibank-sponsored forum looks to foster Qatar entrepreneurship A 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. MPHC, GIS recompose board of directors, executive management Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Company (MPHC) and Gulf International Services (GIS) have “recomposed” their board of directors and executive management. 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 representative). 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 3 BUSINESS Turkish students face battle to escape middle income trap Bloomberg Ankara T 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. E 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 Forum. 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 Reuters Dubai 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 already highly-competitive 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 Bloomberg Dubai F 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. zero. 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 invested.” 4 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 BUSINESS Alibaba loses some sheen with hedge funds Dow Jones Beijing A 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. Australia’s sliding dollar tempts Japan Post to acquire Toll Holdings Bloomberg Tokyo 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 Bloomberg. 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 5 BUSINESS Indonesia plans to create $8bn mega-Islamic bank By Arno Maierbrugger Gulf Times Correspondent Bangkok U 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 2015. 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? IANS Mumbai 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 rapidly.” He also turned the focus on the forthcoming budget when asked about the lack of a forward guidance in the policy review. “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 here. 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. Xiaomi overtakes Samsung in China smartphone sales in ’14 Bloomberg Beijing 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 Bloomberg Tokyo J 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. 6 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 BUSINESS Real estate stocks to continue rally as interest rates rise RBI’s start-and-stop cuts threaten bond fund ﬂows Bloomberg Mumbai Bloomberg New York I 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 show. 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 increases. 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- A 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 $209.98. 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 holiday. 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 IANS 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 budget. 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 (NSDL). 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 $761.53mn. 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%, respectively. 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 Bloomberg New York T 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 earnings. 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 18 BUSINESS T 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 points). 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 before. 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) DISCLAIMER 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 T 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 C 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 19 BUSINESS Currency war feeds boom in Denmark’s property prices amid extreme rates Bloomberg Copenhagen S 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 Bloomberg London T 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 shares. 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 again.” 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 January. 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 found. 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 plastic-packaging 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. WEEKLY COMMODITIES REVIEW Oil, metal prices drift lower as markets await Greek outcome AFP London 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 weeks. “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 report.” 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 time. 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 said. Flynn said the beheading of Christians in Libya by militants affiliated with the Islamic State group showed the threat from the Islamist extremists is expanding. “Risk premium in oil may start to come back and the glut of oil may tighten faster than many people think,” he noted. 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 2013-2035. 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 said. 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 ounce. 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 sapped.” 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 chocolate. 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 earlier. 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 Brazil. “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 BUSINESS GULF TIMES FOCUS 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 below: 1- Advantageous feedstock: The privileged access to natural resources and advantaged feedstock, which forms the basis for success of our petrochemical business. 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 Bloomberg San Francisco T 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 reached. 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. A 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. Tsipras declares victory as Greece dodges ﬁnancial collapse Reuters Athens G 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 agreement. After tight trading, volatility to return on Wall St Reuters New York and value propositions for each customer segments. 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 strength. 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 Greeks. “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 weekend. 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 institutions”. NBA | Page 7 BOXING| Page 6 Williams leads Raptors to win over Atlanta Hawks FOOTBALL | Page 10 May 2 date set for Pacquiao v Mayweather fight in Vegas Sunday, February 22, 2015 Jumada I 3, 1436 AH Lacklustre Barcelona stunned by Malaga CRICKET GULF TIMES SPORT It’s India’s batting vs South Africa’s bowling, says Kohli Page 2 SPOTLIGHT I’ve never seen a coward captain like Misbah, says Akhtar Reuters Karachi F West Indies batsman Andre Russell lashes at a ball bowled by Wahab Riaz (L) during their World Cup match in Christchurch yesterday. CRICKET 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 competition. 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 matches. “I beg of Younus. Thank you for your services to Pakistan cricket but please leave this ODI side now,” said Ramiz. “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 Cup. “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 SCOREBOARD 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; Pakistan 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 (1nb); Result: West Indies won by 150 runs Toss: Pakistan Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Nigel Llong(ENG) By Vic Marks The Guardian H 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.” 2 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 CRICKET PREVIEW SPOTLIGHT 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 AFP Melbourne I 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 quarter-ﬁnals. 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 him. “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 them.” 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 ahead. “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. AFP Melbourne I 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 Sunday. 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 FACTBOX 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 Kohli. 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 Cup. 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.” India batsman Virat Kohli speaks during a press conference at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday. BOTTOMLINE Skipper Holder hails ‘wonderful’ West Indies AFP Christchurch W 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 yesterday. 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 way. “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 33. “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 drive. “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 today.” 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 Misbah-ul-Haq. “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 3 CRICKET PREVIEW Sri Lanka ready to flex muscles against Afghans Reuters Wellington F 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 best. 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 said. “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 said. 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 total. “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. SPOTLIGHT 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 Reuters Sydney A 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 tournament. 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 spare. 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.” Brisbane washout delays Clarke’s return to action Reuters Brisbane A 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 Thursday. BOTTOMLINE American fan catches cricket bug at World Cup AFP Wellington G 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 disappointment. “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. 4 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 SPORT TABLE TENNIS SPOTLIGHT 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 Doha T 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. CYCLING WORLD CUP WADA chief visits Jamaica to check anti-doping efforts Reuters Kingston, Jamaica P 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 Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Shortly after his arrival Reedie said he believes the Caribbean sprint nation is moving in the right direction in improving its drug testing program. “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 added. 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 standards. 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 JADCO. 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. FOCUS Britain’s Olympic champ Kenny’s Froome takes Ruta del Sol lead with stage four win worlds nightmare ends AFP Paris O 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 Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 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 O’Shea. AFP Maracena, Spain C 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 5 SPORT 24TH QATAR INTERNATIONAL ARABIAN HORSE SHOW 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 Doha A 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 second. 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 respectively. 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. BASKETBALL ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP Aspire Zone announces fourth edition of Aspire Jam Reuters Maribor, Slovenia By Sports Reporter Doha A A 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. 6 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 SPORT BOXING 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 theguardian.com A 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, Pacquiao. 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 theguardian.com P 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 7 SPORT NBA NHL 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) Agencies Atlanta T 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, RESULTS 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 Herald. 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 Agencies St. Louis A 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 RESULTS NY Rangers ...... 3 New Jersey .......4 Carolina.................2 St. Louis.................5 Colorado ..............4 Anaheim ..............6 Minnesota ..........4 Buffalo .................1 Vancouver ....2 Toronto ...............1 Boston .................1 Chicago..............1 Calgary .............3 Edmonton....0 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. SPOTLIGHT Major League Baseball declares new pace of play rules Agencies Washington F 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. 8 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 SPORT GOLF NASCAR 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’ Reuters New Delhi L 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 Thomas. 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 Reuters New York N 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.” The National Football 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. DAYTONA 500 Gordon aims to bid goodbye with win Reuters Daytona Beach, Florida J 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 champions. 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 9 FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT FOCUS 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’ AFP Paris 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) P aris Saint-Germain 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 points. “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 encouraging.” 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 Dortmund, says Juve coach Allegri AFP Milan J 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 week. 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 men. 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 points. “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.” MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI 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. BUNDESLIGA Bayern run riot again to extend lead AFP Munich R obert Lewandowski 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 derby. 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) 10 Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 FOOTBALL EPL LA LIGA 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 Reuters Barcelona A lacklustre Barcelona 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) AFP London C 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 Burnley. 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. On their pre-scheduled ‘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, RESULTS & STANDINGS Aston Villa . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Crystal Palace . . . . . . 1 Hull City. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Sunderland. . . . . . . . . 0 Swansea City. . . . . . . .2 Manchester City . . . .5 Standings Stoke City. . . . . . . . . . . 2 Burnley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Arsenal . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 QPR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 West Bromwich. . . . 0 Manchester Utd . . . . 1 Newcastle Utd . . . . . 0 P W D Chelsea 26 Manchester City26 Arsenal 26 Manchester Utd26 Southampton 25 Totten. Hotspur 25 Liverpool 25 West Ham Utd 25 Swansea City 26 Stoke City 26 Newcastle Utd 25 Everton 25 Crystal Palace 26 W Brom Albion 26 Hull City 26 Sunderland 26 Qns P Rangers 26 18 Burnley 26 Aston Villa 26 Leicester City 25 18 16 14 13 14 13 12 10 10 10 8 6 6 6 6 4 6 4 5 4 6 7 6 8 4 4 6 8 7 6 8 9 9 9 8 13 4 10 7 5 L 2 3 6 5 7 8 7 7 9 10 9 10 11 11 12 9 16 12 14 16 F A Pts 56 56 49 44 38 39 36 36 30 30 31 31 28 24 25 22 27 25 13 22 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 Meanwhile, Manchester 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 halves.” 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 second-bottom. 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. SPOTLIGHT Under-fire Ancelotti tells Madrid ‘I am here to stay’ Reuters Barcelona R 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 questioned. 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 stay. “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 ago. 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.” CARLO ANCELOTTI Gulf Times Sunday, February 22, 2015 11 FOOTBALL QSL PREVIEW 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 Doha A 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 points. 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 against Hamilton AFP Glasgow C 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.” SERIE A Inzaghi desperately seeking ‘Milan-style football’ Reuters Rome A 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 TENNIS GULF TIMES QATAR TOTAL OPEN DUBAI CLASSIC 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 Doha T 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 Tuesday. 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 DPA Dubai S 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. ROUND-UP Nocturnal Nadal survives to reach Rio semis AFP Rio de Janeiro C 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 court. 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 contest. 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.
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