Microchips in vehicles to curb fuel bill fraud





AIIB to boost


investments: Xi

Dakar dozen for

Peterhansel, Al

Attiyah second

SUNDAY 17 JANUARY 2016 • 7 Rabia II 1437 • Volume 20 • Number 6678 thepeninsulaqatar @peninsulaqatar @peninsula_qatar

Dr. Khalid Al-Shafi

Acting Editor-in-Chief



The hateful lesion

of terrorism

errorist blasts and operations

are increasing day

after day affecting different

places and threatening

lives of individuals and societies.

Unfortunately, they are

being committed by individuals

and groups calling

themselves Islamic groups

whereas Islam preaches

peace. The prevalence of

this phenomenon is linked

to political developments and

deterioration of conditions in

affected areas.

Two days ago, Indonesian

capital Jakarta witnessed

blasts which claimed the lives

of a number of innocent people

and there were blasts in

Istanbul, which resulted in

deaths and injuries to many

people and Da’esh claimed

responsibility. Motives, justifications

and reasons leading

to the growth of this phenomenon

will vary as long as

there is no common definition

of terrorism in the world.

→ Continued on page 6

Microchips in

vehicles to curb

fuel bill fraud

Woqod’s new system

designed to eliminate

cash transactions

By Mohammad Shoeb

The Peninsula

DOHA: To check any possible wrongdoings

such as issuing of inflated bills

by petrol station staff or fraudulent

acts by some consumers, Qatar Fuel

(Woqod) has started installing electronic

microchips in vehicles.

In the first phase, over 60,000

vehicles, which are already registered

with Woqod, will be covered

under the newly-introduced smart

fuelling and payment system.

A senior Woqod official said the

tailor-made ‘fool-proof system’ will

completely eliminate the possibility

of any irregularities like price

manipulations, frequent refuelling

by unscrupulous motorists for pilferage

and other issues.

The system, named ‘Woqodi’,

works on a microchip affixed in a

vehicle near the fuel tank opening.

The chip, which carries details of the

vehicle such as its registration number,

name and location of petrol station

(where a customer prefers refuelling),

date, time and other details as desired.

“It’s a very smart and convenient

system that we have introduced. It

will provide full control to customers

about the details such as accurate

bill, amount purchased etcetera. It

works at all our gas stations. It will

also help reduce refuelling time,”

Yousef Al Sulaiti, Manager, Information

Technology at Woqod, told


Al Sulaiti said that the system is

going to bring a significant change in

the experience of motorists at Woqod

fuel stations.

The chip, priced QR500 for companies

and QR350 for private vehicles,

takes some time to install as it needs to

be adjusted and the distance between

the ‘demo-reader’ and the position of

the microchip fixed. The modern fuelling

and payment system eliminates

the involvement of fuel staff at petrol

stations. “The system automatically

prints an electronically generated

invoice of the transaction with specific

details. The system also immediately

sends a text message on a preregistered

mobile number about the latest

transaction and other important information,”

he added.

→ Continued on page 6

Portraits of Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Father Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al

Thani on a building of the Sheikh Hamad Residential City in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis


Qatar gifts 1,060 new homes to Gazans

The Peninsula

DOHA: Some 1,060 housing units

built by Qatar in Gaza as part of the

first phase of its multi-million dollar

rebuilding project in the war-ravaged

Palestinian city are being handed over

to beneficiaries.

The housing units, measuring 130

square metres each, are part of (Father

Emir H H) Sheikh Hamad Residential

City being built in Gaza by Qatar

as part of its contribution to Gaza’s

reconstruction effort. Qatar is developing

the city in several phases. The

second phase has also been launched

and is almost 25 percent complete,

reports Qatar News Agency (QNA).

This phase will provide 1,200 housing

units to deserving people of Gaza.

Besides this, Qatar is also financing

rebuilding of electricity transmission

networks, launching agricultural

projects, building healthcare facilities

and developing infrastructure,

rebuilding homes destroyed in the

last Israeli aggression and building

new housing units.

Qatar was the first country to

finance and launch massive rebuilding

effort in war-torn Gaza for which

it initially earmarked US$407m.

Later in October 2014, at a donors’

meeting, Emir H H Sheikh Tamim

bin Hamad Al Thani pledged $1bn

for reconstruction and the cash was

given immediately after that. For the

reconstruction, Qatar set up a committee

— ‘Qatari Committee for the

Reconstruction of Gaza’ with Ambassador

Mohamed Al Emadi as chairman.

→ Continued on page 6



Minister of Public Health and Supreme Council of Health (SCH) Secretary-General H E Abdullah bin Khalid Al Qahtani speaking at the opening of the International Conference in Emergency Medicine and Public Health

- Qatar 2016 at Qatar National Convention Centre yesterday. Pic: Kammutty /The Peninsula

Emergency Medicine and Public Health forum opens

By Fazeena Saleem

The Peninsula

DOHA: Most recent clinical developments

in emergency medicine and

public health are being discussed at a

conference, opened yesterday by Minister

of Public Health and Supreme

Council of Health Secretary-General

H E Abdullah bin Khalid Al Qahtani.

The International Conference in

Emergency Medicine and Public Health-

Qatar (ICEP-Q 2016) under the theme

‘Together we move forward’, aims to

learn and share experiences to improve

quality in the areas of emergency medicine

and public health.

“The conference is important as it

discusses issues affecting public health

and emergency medicine.

“The role played by public health

in preventing diseases and the emergency

department as the first point of

contact in case of an emergency are

vital. The collaboration of both will

help provide more quality services,”

said Al Qahtani.

Qatar is keen to provide distinguished

healthcare services to the

public through its health centres, he

said, adding that the national health

strategy focuses on prevention of

diseases and improving the health of


Last year, the Emergency Department

at Hamad General Hospital saw

Qatar is keen to

provide distinguished

healthcare services to

the public through its

health centres, says


about one million cases, including

45,000 paediatric emergencies.

Dr Sheikh Hassan bin Ali Al Thani,

Head, Trauma and Vascular Surgery

Sections, Hamad Medical Corporation

(HMC), said to meet the high

requirements, the department is set for

an expansion and expects the primary

health care centres to treat minor cases.

“The expansion is coming in

number of phases, primary health

centres are picking up minor emergency

cases to reduce the pressure

on the department,” he said.

“The department is expanding in

terms of capacity, there is a three-storey

building coming up, this will take

some two years, but work has begun,”

said Dr Al Thani. He said the satellite

services provided by some primary

health centres and the single workers

hospital are also expected to take

some burden from the department.

The major achievements in public

health sector in Qatar include the

QC urges people to donate

more for Syrians in Madaya

The Peninsula

DOHA: Qatar Charity (QC) has urged citizens and residents

of Qatar to redouble their donations to support

Syrians in the besieged Syrian city of Madaya.

Ready-to-eat meals can be donated to the residents

of Madaya via SMS. People can send the word “Madaya,”

to 92642 to donate QR100, to 92428 to donate QR500,

to 92429 to donate QR1,000, or can contact QC hotline


QC has distributed food rations to the starving residents

of Madaya in cooperation with Al Rahma International


It has opened the doors for donations and contributions

to Madaya, as part of a campaign ‘Syria, Harsh


Aid included prepared food, wheat, lentils, chickpeas,

beans, semolina, sugar, corn and rice, in addition

to meals and fresh meat.

Reports of international humanitarian organisations

indicate that the majority of the deceased were

elderly and infants due to the acute shortage of foodstuff,

particularly milk.

Thousands of Madaya residents and those of the western

countryside of Damascus, including Zabadani and

Baqin, are facing death due to the deteriorating humanitarian

conditions and the severe cold winter.

Ooredoo unveils Windows 10 devices

The Peninsula

DOHA: Ooredoo has announced that

customers will be able to buy the latest

models of Windows phones and

tablets via selected Ooredoo shops

and online via eShop this week.

This is the first time Ooredoo has

been able to sell the state-of-the-art

Windows devices and to start-off

the company will have a selection

of the latest Windows smart devices

available, including the brand new

Microsoft Lumia 950 DS, 950 XL

phones and the Surface Pro4 i5 tablet.

Ooredoo’s Windows launch has

come recently after the software

company’s upgrade to its new operating

system Windows 10, and all

devices now sold via Ooredoo will be

compatible with the new operating

prevention of communicable diseases

without an outbreak, an advance immunisation

system, reduction in road

accidents and their severity, and steps

taken to reduce lifestyle diseases, said

Dr Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al

Thani, Director, Public Health, Supreme

Council of Health (SCH).

“In implementing the national

health strategy, we have achieved 77

percent in preventive health and hope

to increase it to 90 percent this year.

“The mortality rate due to road

accidents reduced to 8.2 per 100,000

people in 2014, the severity of accidents

has reduced by 18.3 percent and fatal

accidents by 10 percent,” he added.

The mortality rate due to road accidents

was recorded at 26 for every

software, enabling benefits such as

the ability to keep your digital life

in sync across all Window devices,

enhanced notifications, Xbox, Office

Apps and more.

Customers can pick up the latest

Surface Pro4 i5 tablet starting

from QR4,399 and the latest Microsoft

Lumia 950 from QR2,099.

To celebrate the launch of

Microsoft, all customers who buy a

Microsoft Lumia 950 or 950XL will

get a free display dock, 6GB Data

Card, one-month free Shahry subscription

for all new and upgrading


All customers will also get 10 percent

off Office 365 software for one

year for business customers.

Customers who buy a Surface

Pro4 i5 tablet or smart Wi-Fi Netgear

device along with a new Microsoft

Lumia will also get this offer plus a

100,000 people in 2006. It is the firstof-its-kind

forum in the GCC, organised

by HMC and the SCH.

It has brought together around

1,300 experts in emergency medicine,

public health and ambulance service

at Qatar National Convention Centre.

Sessions are dedicated to infectious

diseases, disaster preparedness,

pre-hospital emergencies, injury prevention,

medical toxicology, critical

care in the emergency department,

emergency education, nursing and

other topics. Pre-conference workshops

were held for two days.

An exhibition on public health and

emergency medicine services in the

country is being held on sidelines.

The conference ends tomorrow.

QC launched the campaign beginning from Rihaniyya

area along the Turkish border to provide kits for the

displaced in Syria, and refugees in southern Turkey to

enable them to keep warm during the winter months.

The first consignment of the campaign included

more than 250,000 kits distributed to 508,000 people.

A QC delegation distributed 2,000 food baskets to

10,000 Syrian refugees in Rihaniyya city near the Syrian


QC is playing a central role to alleviate the suffering

of refugees and displaced people in Lebanon.

About 10,000 Syrian refugees in the Lebanese city

of Arsal have benefited from the relief project carried

out by QC.

The charity has distributed 1,825 basic items to 15

Syrian refugees’ camps in Lebanon as part of the ‘Life’s

Backbone’ project at a cost of QR1,825,000.

People can donate to the campaign ‘Syria ...Harsh

Winter’ through Rayan Bank account number: IBAN /

QA40MAFR000000000003111111001, or through QC

website: qcharity.org, or through QC headquarter and its

branches in the state, and its outlets in shopping malls.

People can also donate to Syria campaign via SMS,

by sending the word “Syria”, to 92632 to donate QR50,

to 92642 to donate QR100, to 92428 to donate QR500,

and to 92429 to donate QR1,000.

The campaign has also designated hotline 44667711

for people to donate and respond to their inquiries related

to donations.

free 15GB Data Card. To ensure that

users can protect their new technology

and enjoy the latest accessories,

Ooredoo will also launch Windows

extras in its shops, including covers,

touchscreen pens, compatible

keyboards and a docking station

for phones.

The new devices are also

4G+enabled, allowing customers

to get the most out of the Ooredoo

Supernet, with access to superfast

mobile data speeds and an incredible

browsing experience.

Details of Ooredoo’s plans, pricing,

and offers are available at www.


For details on Windows devices,

visit: https://www.microsoft.com/


Customers can find out prices for

the latest device launches at http://



QRCS begins vocational training in Gaza

The QR2,416,460

initiative with the

Palestinian Red

Crescent Society will

benefit people with


The Peninsula

DOHA: Qatar Red Crescent Society

(QRCS) has undertaken $664,240

(QR2,416,460) vocational training

project for people with disabilities in

the Gaza Strip, in partnership with

the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

The project is implemented through

Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children


It is funded by the GCC Programme

for the Reconstruction of Gaza and

Qatar’s Al Fakhoora Foundation (Education

Above All), under the supervision

of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Lasting from May 2015 until this

April, the project aims to provide

vocational training for young men

and women with hearing, visual or

physical disabilities to help them find

jobs, earn their livelihood, and interact

effectively with the community.

Sustainable interventions for

socio-economic empowerment of

people with disabilities are implemented

through vocational training,

internship opportunities and microbusiness

projects in the areas of

furniture making, hairdressing, sewing,

embroidery, upholstery, jewellery

making, car mechanics, cooking and

baking, professional photography, short

filmmaking, graphic design, wood

carving, and Braille language.

Based on a ‘disability database’

prepared by the Palestinian Central

Bureau of Statistics and QRCS in a prior

stage, criteria were used to select beneficiaries.

A total of 215 people with

disabilities in 18-35 age group were

selected to attend vocational training

courses, of whom 100 will later

be offered internships and another

44 will receive micro-business grants.

The project also targets 200 representatives

of public and private sectors,

micro-business enterprises, employment

agencies and vocational training

centres; 1,764 family members of people

with disabilities and 30 graduates

in the fields of disability.

A comprehensive needs assessment

was carried out to ensure all

facilities at Atfaluna Society for Deaf

Children are adapted to serve people

with disabilities. Other activities

include organising marathons and

murals on International Day of People

with Disability.

QRCS Secretary-General Saleh bin

Ali Al Mohannadi said 60 percent of

the project has been accomplished.

Some of the beneficiaries attending vocational training.

“The overall goal of the project is to

reduce poverty in Gaza and raise the

quality of life for people with disabilities,

their families and communities

by improving their socio-economic

status, employability skills and job

creation, eventually supporting the

local Palestinian economy.

“The project’s rights-based

approach encourages and reinforces

changes in society’s attitudes

towards people with disabilities by

raising awareness about their right

to schooling, vocational training and

employment,” he added. The project

is part of a major joint programme

between QRCS and the Palestinian Red

Crescent Society to develop and rehabilitate

Gaza’s disability services and

integration, with $5m funding from Al

Fakhoora Foundation and IDB.

Katara to launch third edition of Winter Festival on January 24

The Peninsula

DOHA: For the third year in a row, Cultural

Village Foundation-Katara will

launch its 2016 edition of the Winter


The festival will start on January

24 and end on January 28 at Katara

Esplanade. This year’s edition draws a

significant participation of ministries,

institutions and private sector centres

that will hold a wide range of diverse

events, including performances, theatrical

shows and educational workshops.

The Childhood Cultural Centre is

planning children’s activities, including

competitions and games, with gifts.

Qatar Heritage and Identity Centre

is taking part with a unique educational

theatrical show to highlight the winter

season, in addition to other entertaining

activities, to acquaint the public,

especially children, with the Qatari

cultural and national identity and


To raise awareness about healthcare

during the winter season, two

campaigns will be held this year.

One will be organised by Bin Muftah’s

Medical Centre to raise visitors’

awareness about common winter

diseases, food to eat during the season

and healthy habits to follow. The

other will be held by Al Rabiee Medical

Centre to raise awareness about

skincare during the winter season.

Al Gannas Society is organising

information sessions for junior

falconers and other sessions on falconry

and hunting using salouki dogs.

The festival will also feature

events and activities, including

exhibitions and workshops under

Al Galayel competition.

A birds and animals exhibition by

Kanari World pet store, performances

by cultural bands, activities organised

by the Ministry of Municipality and

Urban Planning, games at the beach

front organised by Katara, a photo

exhibition, kids workshops, painting

workshops for adults, a display

of handicrafts by Qatar University’s

alumni association, and an introductory

expo by Qatar News Agency are

among other programmes.

Cultural Village Foundation-

Katara has always been keen to

organise educational and entertaining

activities with the participation

of the private and government sectors.

The third edition of the festival

aims to attract the public, especially

children, and provide them with a

glimpse on Qatari lifestyle during



Pakistan mission

starts online


DOHA: The Pakistan

embassy has begun an

online appointment system

for its nationals in

Qatar for the issuance

and renewal of passports

and computerised

national identity cards


The new system will

help Pakistani expatriates

needing these services

save time, particularly

those living in the remote

areas. The old system

required an applicant to

visit the embassy in person

between 1pm and

3pm on working days and

take an appointment for

these services.

To avail of the new

services, the applicant

will have to email the

required documents

to the embassy at pak.



The applicant will

need to make a request

for appointment, providing

basic information

such as the purpose of

appointment, full name,

NIC and passport numbers,

contact number

and residential address in


For passport service,

the applicant should

attach a copy of NICC/

NICOP (both sides), a copy

of passport (front side)

and a copy of visa (residency

permit of Qatar).

To take an appointment

for services related

to documentation for a

newborn, a copy of NICC

of parents and a copy of

birth certificate attested

by Qatar’s Foreign Ministry

should be attached

with the request.

To take an appointment

for the renewal

of NIC, a copy of NICC

(both sides) is required

to be attached with the


Pakistani expatriates

living in remote areas,

including Mesaieed, Al

Wakrah, Al Khor, Dukhan

and Al Shihaniya will be

given priority, according

to an embassy official.



Qatar reiterates rejection of violence and extremism


NEW YORK: Qatar has renewed its firm stance

rejecting violence and extremism in all its

forms regardless of the analysis of their causes

and means of dealing with them.

The state said “bullets and bombs” are

not enough to win the war on these phenomena

and that they need a deeper and more

strategic long-term approach and political

determination to negotiate pluralistic and

comprehensive solutions to regional conflicts.

In a statement before the annual United

Nations Alliance of Civilisations Focal Points

Meeting on ‘Preventing and Combating

Works of five artists

feature at QM exhibition

The five won the ‘Luc

Tuymans Challenge’

inspired by the works

of internationallyacclaimed



The Peninsula

DOHA: Qatar Museums (QM) yesterday

announced the five winners of the

‘Luc Tuymans Challenge’, who will see

their artworks displayed at QM’s latest

exhibition ‘Your View’ at the QM

Gallery, Al Riwaq, until January 31.

Presented under the leadership

of QM Chairperson H E Sheikha Al

Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al

Thani, the competition was inspired by

the works of internationally-acclaimed

Belgian artist Luc Tuymans, whose

major retrospective ‘Intolerance’ is

on display at the QM gallery at Al

Riwaq until January 30. The competition

invited creatives from across

Violence and Extremism’, Qatar Committee for

the Alliance of Civilisations Vice-Chairman

Dr Hassan Ibrahim Al Mohannadi stressed the

panel’s keenness since its inception to adopt

policies to contribute with the international

community to preventing and combating

violence and extremism and disseminating

values of brotherhood, tolerance, peace

and stability to serve humanity.

He also highlighted the panel’s continuing

mediation efforts to resolve international

and regional issues.

Al Mohannadi referred to the committee’s

role in defusing conflicts and disputes between

religious, ethnic and sectarian groups in different

countries and achieving successes.

“We in Qatar reject all forms of violence

the country to express views about

world events though art.

The winners are Katrina Boyd,

a teacher at Al Khor International

School; Michael Perrone, a professor at

VCU-Qatar; healthcare management

professional Mohammed Muslim; and

students Devi Sari and Maryam Nasser.

Each of them impressed Tuymans

with their artworks, all of which are

inspired by media-driven images of

important moments in history that

have affected the world and how we

perceive it today.

Tuymans uses art to showcase his

views on history, media and how we

look at images.

Aware since the outset of his career

that painting as an art form is widely

considered in crisis, Tuymans adopted

a contrasting stance.

Painting became for him a vehicle

through which the most urgent

and volatile issues, whether relating

to history, identity, nationalism and

belief, or to headline social and political

events, could be opened up to a

nuanced debate.

By bringing major international

artists and their exhibitions to Qatar,

such as ‘Intolerance’, QM is continuing

to influence aspiring artists in the

region and educate local communities

and extremism,” he said quoting Emir H H

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who has

stressed our clear and categorical rejection of

terrorism and religious extremism regardless

of the analyses of their causes and means of

dealing with them.

Qatar’s fight against terrorism and denial

of extremism stem from their social and cultural

threats to our society, religion and nation,

he added.

Qatar has established institutions and

agencies to spread the culture of coexistence

and dialogue among civilisations and

religions, fight extremism and reject violence,

Dr Al Mohannadi said referring to the

Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue,

which seeks to spread the culture and

about international art.

In line with QM’s vision to inspire

an indigenous culture of creativity and

innovation in Qatar, the competition

sought to engage local artistic talent

and further inspire local creativity.

Competitors were asked to submit

a high-resolution photo of their

painting to a website, including details

of inspiration behind their work and

a brief biography.

Born in 1958, Tuymans is regarded

internationally as one of the key figures

of a new generation of figurative painters,

credited with having contributed

to the revival of painting in the 1990s.

His works are featured in museum collections

worldwide, including the Art

Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges

Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County

Museum of Art; MoMA, New York; Pinakothek

der Moderne, Munich; Solomon

R Guggenheim Museum, New York;

and Tate Gallery, London.

Among his major solo shows was

a presentation of his portraits ‘Nice.

Luc Tuymans’ at The Menil Collection,

Houston in 2013. Previous major survey

shows include those organised

by Moderna Museet Malm, Sweden

in 2009 and Tate Modern, London in

2004. In 2001, the artist represented

Belgium at the 49th Venice Biennale.

acceptance of others and peaceful coexistence.

The centre founded in 2007 contributed

to building bridges of cooperation and understanding

between religions, civilisations and

cultures around the world, he added.

Established in 2010, the committee set the

2014-2016 plan of Qatar for UN Alliance of

Civilizations to ease tensions between nations

and peoples, remove causes of division and

misunderstanding and build relationships

among them to achieve the humanitarian

goal of peaceful coexistence, acceptance

of others and respect for peoples and cultures,

he said.

Qatar also established the Hamad Bin

Khalifa Civilisation Centre in Copenhagen,

Denmark in 2014 to serve Muslims in Europe

and to be a beacon for a deeper understanding

of the teachings of Islam, which guarantees

peaceful coexistence of all and calls for the

establishment of mutual understanding among

peoples and nations, he added.

He said the Emir stressed that “bullets

and bombs” were not enough to win the war

on extremism and that understanding the

root cause of terrorism was a prerequisite

to tackling its prevalence.

Fighting terrorism and extremism needs a

deeper and more strategic long-term approach

and a strong international political determination

to negotiate pluralistic and comprehensive

solutions to regional conflicts along with the

adoption of binding international executive


Belgian artist Luc Tuymans with one of his works. His retrospective ‘Intolerance’ is on display at the QM

gallery at Al Riwaq until January 30.

The team from the Paediatric Continuity Clinic at Hamad General Hospital during the opening of the library.

Library opens at Paediatric Continuity

Clinic at Hamad General Hospital

The Peninsula

DOHA: Hamad Medical Corporation

(HMC), in collaboration with the Childhood

Cultural Centre, inaugurated a

library for children at Hamad General

Hospital’s (HGH) Paediatric Continuity


The library was installed as part

of ongoing cooperation between HMC

and the centre to foster love for reading

among children visiting the clinic,

said Ali Al Khater, Chief Communications

Officer, HMC.

The library is attractively designed

to encourage children to read and offers

books, magazines and educational toys.

It also aims to increase children’s

knowledge and enable them to develop

their language skills and creativity

and engage them in fun and entertaining

activities during their visits.

“The provision of this library is

part of our ‘I read’ campaign launched

by the centre in 2012.

“We provided the library to a

group of institutions, most notably

HMC, which has always fully supported

efforts to bring happiness to

and improve the quality of life of their

patients, especially children,” said

Abdullah Hamid Al Mulla, Director,

Public Relations, Childhood Cultural


Children also received gifts during

the library’s inauguration.

The clinic officially opened in

November 2015 at the Outpatient

Department to provide patient-centred

care for children.

It enables each patient to stay in

one assigned treatment room where

the patient’s nurse, paediatric specialist

or medical resident comes to

them, so that the patient does not have

to move around from place to place.

With eight themed treatment

rooms, the clinic is open from Sunday

to Thursday between 7am and 3pm.


The hateful lesion of terrorism


Continued from page 1

Some believe that it is the result of competitions

and conflicts between states,

helping these factions grow and spread,

while others think it is a natural phenomenon

in societies where people face political,

economic, social, religious and ideological


If we look at the environment and places

where these terrorist factions are operating,

we can find societies suffering due to

poverty and ignorance and people lacking

the basic necessities of life.

To fight this epidemic, there is a need

for an-depth study on the reasons leading

to the appearance of these groups, especially

among the youth, to find sustainable


Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad

Al Thani, Allah bless him, raised this issue

DOHA: Qatar Charity (QC) has announced

the opening of a new camp, including

500 tents for displaced Syrians on the

Turkish-Syrian border. It has distributed

a similar number of tents to affected families

in rural areas of Hama, Aleppo and

and the evil designs of terrorists earlier.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly

meeting in 2014, His Highness made a

call not to push people to choose between

terrorism and authoritarian regimes.

He urged the UN Security Council to

avoid double standards and selectivity in

its policies.

Terrorists are insulting Islam by giving

extremist interpretations.

The Emir emphasised that Arab societies

are the most affected by terrorism and,

to make people stand up against terrorism,

there must not be any discrimination and

practices of deprivation.

It is clear that terrorism is not a coincidence

but the outcome of daily lives of

individuals and groups growing up under

influences of thoughts contradicting Islamic

teachings and living under unfair economic

and social conditions.

Gaza needs 130,000 housing

units: Palestinian Minister

Continued from page 1

Hamad City is being developed and other

rebuilding projects like healthcare facilities,

are being launched by the Qatari committee

in collaboration with the Palestinian

Ministry for Public Works and Housing.

At the allotment (the start of housing

unit distribution) function, Palestinian Public

Works and Housing Minister Mofeed Al

Hasayneh was also present.

He said Gaza needs some 130,000

housing units and praised Qatar for help

in helping meet the shortage.

The function was to mark the beginning

of the allotment process as the 1,060 units

will be handed to beneficiaries in a gradual

manner and proper documents to them.

The function was a celebration to mark

the completion of the first phase of the housing

project financed by Qatar, aside from

the start of the allotment of units.

Al Emadi said out of the initial $407m

earmarked by Qatar, $230m had been used

for rebuilding and housing projects.

He said tenders for other phases will

be invited soon and will include the fourth

phase of the development of Salahuddin

Road. Al Emadi praised Palestinian contracting

companies and said they are playing

a key role in Qatar-funded development

and rebuilding projects.

He said work on the projects was stalled

for almost a year due to the shortage of

building materials but the Qatari committee

solved the problem last March and

work resumed and the first phase of the

housing project as part of Hamad City was


Ismail Haniyah, Deputy Head of Hamas

Politburo, said soon Hamad Hospital for

Rehabilitation and Artificial Limbs will

be inaugurated in Gaza. The hospital has

latest equipment and technology, he said

and praised Qatar, its leadership and people

for help.

QC opens new camp for

displaced Syrians

Latakia as part its winter campaign in

Syria. In a statement yesterday, QC said

the number of beneficiaries of these tents

reached more than 6,000. Faisal Rashid

Al Fehaidh, Executive Director Operations,

QC, said “The establishment of

the camp and distribution of tents aim

to help displaced Syrians face the cold

winter cold.

The Peninsula

DOHA: Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah

Foundation for Humanitarian Services

(RAF) has selected over 200

students from 27 Arab and Islamic

countries for scholarships to pursue

higher education at universities

in Malaysia.

RAF will earmark QR20m from

its endowment fund annually to

give scholarships to help students

realise their dreams of pursuing

higher studies in top varsities of

the world.

Details of ‘Sheikh Thani Bin

Abdullah Scholarships for University

Education’ were given by

senior officials at a press conference.

“The first batch of more than

200 students has been selected from

some of the most deserving countries,

including Syria, Yemen and

Palestine, among other Arab and

Islamic countries, facing humanitarian

crises,” said Hasan bin Hasan

Al Sulayti, Supervisor-General,

Scholarship Programme.

RAF will sign contracts with

top universities in Malaysia to

ensure admission for its students,”

he added.

Malaysia was selected because

its universities are providing excellent

education and are accredited


The country is peaceful, the

people are good and educated and

the visa and residency procedures

are easy, said Al Sulayti.

Scholarships will be granted to

50 students for bachelor’s degree

courses, 40 for master’s and 10

for PhD, said Dr Mohamed Salah

Ibrahim, CEO, RAF.

“The candidate should be unable

to finance his studies and should

have a good character and should

keen to serve the community.”

The scholarships are for

courses, including law, economy,

international relations, psychology,

mass communications, social

sciences, liaison (public, organisational

and individual), social

development projects, management,

and information and

technology, said Ibrahim.

Once admitted to a programme,

a student will not be allowed to


RAF selects over 200 from

27 countries for scholarships

Students will

pursue higher

studies at top

universities in


Continued from page 1

He said since the system eliminates the

exchange of cash and reduces time, it may also

help address the problem of long queues at fuel

stations, especially during peak hours.

The system has been tailored to let fuel start

flowing from the dispensing nozzle after it is

close enough to the tank. The moment nozzle

is out from the tank, the flow stops. This aims

to ensure refuelling is done only in the designated

vehicle for which payment has been

made. The use of the technology will also help

keep tab on vehicles used for frequent refuelling

for diesel smuggling.

Al Sulaiti said in keeping with Qatari culture,

staff will be available to assist motorists

for refuelling.

Woqod is offering the system only to its preregistered

customers, including those with big

fleet of vehicles, at limited number of places,

including Abu Hamour petrol station. The system,

which is not mandatory, will be offered

to other corporate customers and individuals

by the year-end.

The new system, which initially works on

a postpaid format, will replace the existing

voucher system the company offers to ‘captive’

customers. But, according to the official,

Woqod is working to issue integrated prepaid

cards, which can be used to pay for other services

provided by Woqod, such as car wash and

Senior RAF officials at the press conference to announce the scholarship programme.

Sidra convenient store. “The new service has

evoked a huge response. So we have planned

to offer it in a phased manner,” added Al Sulaiti.

change his specialisation.

The grade point average (GPA)

of a student should not be less than

80 percent.

Study should not be discontinued

without any genuine reason and

discontinuation should not be for

more than two semesters.

The scholarships also aim to

provide a six-month refresher’s

course in English language, tuition

fees of the university throughout

study, air ticket from and to their

home countries, suitable lodging

and food, transport and daily personal


Woqod’s new system to reduce long queues

Yousef Al Sulaiti, Manager, Information Technology, Woqod, explaining the new system,

at a press conference at the company’s Legtaifiya station yesterday.

Pic: Baher / The Peninsula

“Later, it can also be integrated with other GCC

countries as similar smart payment systems are

available in neighbouring countries.”

Foggy weather, poor visibility in morning forecast

The sun rises in Al Wakrah and Al Shamal Road engulfed in a thick layer of fog, yesterday. Pics: Salim & Kammutty / The Peninsula

The Peninsula

DOHA: While it was clear sunrise

in Al Wakrah yesterday, some

other parts of the country witnessed

foggy conditions.

The weather bureau has

forecast a foggy weather in many

parts of the country this morning,

affecting visibility.

There will be high winds as the

day progresses, with northwesterly

wind moving from the colder

regions of Europe at speeds of eight

to 18 knots to 22 knots. Due to the

fog in the morning, visibility could

be 1km or even less at places. The

fog will clear as the day progresses,

improving visibility to four to 8km.

The night will be cold, said

the bureau in its routine forecast

for today. Day temperatures are

expected to vary between 19 and

24 degrees C. In Doha, the maximum

temperature forecast is 24

degrees and 19 in Al Ruwais.

The night will be cold with the

mercury dropping to 14 degrees

in Doha and 11 in Abu Samra on

Qatar-Saudi border. The sea will

be tumultuous and the weather will

be partly cloudy, with high northwesterly

winds moving at speeds

of 15 to 22 to 25 knots at times.



IS kills 35 Syria regime soldiers


cuts ties

with Iran

IS has advanced into the

northern tip of Deir Ezzor

city, in eastern Syria, and

captured the suburb of

Al Baghaliyeh


BEIRUT: At least 35 Syrian soldiers and proregime

militiamen were killed yesterday in a

multi-front attack by the Islamic State (IS) group

on the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, a monitor said.

The fighting came as regime forces battled

IS in the northern province of Aleppo, repelling

a militant assault and killing at least 16 fighters

from the group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

said IS had advanced into the northern tip of

Deir Ezzor city, in eastern Syria, and captured

the suburb of Al Baghaliyeh.

The advance puts IS in control of around 60

percent of the city, with the regime holding the

rest, according to the Britain-based monitor.

Syrian state news agency Sana said regime

troops had repelled an IS attack on the area around

Al Baghaliyeh and inflicted “heavy losses” on

the group.

Deir Ezzor is the capital of Deir Ezzor province,

an oil-rich region that borders Iraq and is

mostly held by IS.

The regime has clung onto portions of the

provincial capital and the adjacent military airport

despite repeated IS attacks.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said

heavy fighting was continuing yesterday afternoon

after the IS assault, which began with a

suicide car bomb blast carried out by a member

of the jihadist group.

Eight of the regime forces killed were shot

dead by IS militants, the Observatory added.

The monitor said Russian warplanes were

carrying out heavy air strikes in support of regime

forces as they sought to repel the jihadists.

Elsewhere, regime troops were locked in

fierce clashes with IS in Aleppo province, with

at least 16 jihadists killed after a failed attack

on a government position near the town of Al

A Syrian Civil Defence worker carries a child wrapped in a blanket over the rubble following a reported air strike by government

forces on the Sukkari neighbourhood of northern city of Aleppo, yesterday.

Bab, the Observatory said. State television also

reported that regime forces had repelled an

assault. The Observatory said heavy fighting

was ongoing throughout yesterday in the

area, with Russian war planes carrying out

strikes in the region between the regimeheld

Kweyris air base and Al Bab.

The regime has advanced towards the town,

an IS bastion, in recent days, and is now within

10km of it, according to the Observatory.

That is the closest regime forces have come

to Al Bab since 2012. The Britain-based monitor

also said regime forces had taken a string

of villages nearby.

Roughly 30km south of the Turkish border,

Al Bab fell into rebel hands in July 2012, and IS

jihadists captured it in late 2013. The fighting in

Al Bab is just one of up to seven fronts on which

regime forces are seeking to advance in Aleppo

province, capitalising on a Russian air campaign

that began on September 30. The various battles

are intended in part to cut rebel supply lines

into Aleppo city, the provincial capital and Syria’s

second city.

The city itself is divided and regime forces are

now hoping to effectively encircle the oppositionheld

east. In addition to cutting rebel access to

eastern Aleppo city, the regime is hoping to sever

areas controlled by IS in the province from its

territory in neighbouring Raqa, Abdel Rahman

said. Meanwhile, the United Nations has unverified

reports that 15-20 people died of starvation

in the Syrian city of Deir Al Zor in 2015, where

200,000 people face sharply deteriorating conditions

and a severe food shortage, it said in a

report published yesterday.

The western part of the city has been under

siege by Islamic State militants since last March.

There have been no flights into the airport except

by helicopter since September, no electricity for

more than 10 months and water is only available

for three hours a week, the UN report said.


MORONI: Indian Ocean archipelago

and Saudi Arabia ally the

Comoros said it had cut diplomatic

relations with Iran over

what it termed Tehran’s “aggression”

towards Riyadh.

A foreign ministry statement

said the Comoros viewed Tehran

as “interfering” in “the internal

affairs of certain countries” and “not

respecting diplomatic conventions”.

Comoros’ foreign ministry said it

had called on the Iranian ambassador

to clear his desk. The move came

a week after the Comoros, a member

of the Arab League, recalled its own

ambassador from Tehran judging that

Iran has created a climate of “gratuitous

aggression” towards Riyadh.

Relations between majority Shia

Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia dived

after the January 2 ransacking of the

Saudi embassy in Tehran and the

Saudi consulate in Mashhad, Iran’s

second city. The ransacking came

amid anger over Riyadh’s execution

of Nimr Al Nimr, a prominent cleric

from the kingdom’s Shia minority.

Following the execution Riyadh

severed diplomatic relations

with Tehran. Several Arab countries

followed suit and severed or

reduced relations with Iran.

“One cannot violate with impunity

the sovereignty of diplomatic

missions,” the Comoros foreign

ministry director general Ahamada

Hamadi said, referring to

the ransacking. The three islands

of Anjouan, Grand Comore and

Moheli that make up the Comoros

have a total population of just under

800,000 people, nearly all of whom

are Sunni Muslims. Since gaining

independence from France in 1975,

the impoverished archipelago has

witnessed more than 20 attempted

coups, four of which were successful,

but it has enjoyed relative stability

in recent years.



Iran and US free prisoners as sanctions to end

Two nations

made a series of

goodwill gestures

ahead of the lifting

of international

sanctions against

Tehran under a

nuclear deal


Iran to buy 114

jets from Airbus

DUBAI/PARIS: Iran plans to buy

114 civil aircraft from European

aircraft maker Airbus, the transport

minister was quoted as saying

yesterday, ahead of the anticipated

lifting of international sanctions

on Iran.

“We have taken the first step

in agreeing with Airbus to buy

114 planes,” Abbas Akhoondi was

quoted as saying by the Tasnim

news agency.

Airbus said it was not engaging

in commercial talks with Iran

until sanctions had been lifted.


VIENNA/WASHINGTON: The day before the

Obama administration was due to slap new sanctions

on Iran late last month, Iranian Foreign

Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned US

Secretary of State John Kerry the move could

derail a prisoner deal the two sides had been

negotiating in secret for months.

Kerry and other top aides to President Barack

Obama, who was vacationing in Hawaii, convened

a series of conference calls and concluded

they could not risk losing the chance to free

Americans held by Tehran.

At the last minute, the Obama administration

officials decided to delay a package

of limited and targeted sanctions intended to

penalize Iran for recent test-firings of a ballistic

missile capable of delivering a nuclear

warhead. This account of previously unreported

internal deliberations was provided

by two people with knowledge of the matter.

Those unilateral US sanctions were expected

to be imposed quickly now that four Americans,

including Washington Post journalist Jason

Drone strike kills

three militants

in Yemen


VIENNA/DUBAI: Iran freed five

Americans including a Washington

Post reporter yesterday as the two

countries staged a series of goodwill

gestures ahead of the expected

announcement of the lifting of international

sanctions against Tehran

under a nuclear deal.

US President Barack Obama

pardoned three Iranian-Americans

charged for sanctions violations, and

US officials said four others would

be released, in a thaw in relations

between the two nations that has

shaped the Middle East since Iran’s

Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The ending of sanctions would

bring the Middle Eastern country of

80 million people back to the global

economic stage after several years

away, and increase Iranian influence

in a region torn by sectarian strife.

The International Atomic Energy

Agency was expected to announce in

Vienna that Tehran had complied with

the requirements of a deal reached

last year, under which it was to curb

its nuclear programme in return for

the lifting of sanctions imposed by

the United States, United Nations and

European Union.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad

Zarif and US Secretary of State John

Kerry, who developed a strong rapport

while hammering out last year’s

deal, met in a Vienna hotel before the


“Implementation day” of the

nuclear deal marks the biggest reentry

of a former pariah state into

world commerce since the end of the

Cold War. It is also a turning point in

the hostility between Iran and the

United States that has shaped the Middle

East since Iran’s Islamic Revolution

of 1979, and a defining initiative for

both US President Barack Obama and

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.

Both leaders have faced strong

opposition from hardliners at home in

countries that have called each other

Rezaian (pictured), were being released by

Iran. Eight Iranians accused in the United States

of sanctions violations were having charges

dropped or sentences commuted yesterday

under the complex prisoner deal, according to

court filings and sources familiar with the cases.

The moves came as broader US and international

sanctions were set to be lifted after

verification that it had met commitments to

curb its nuclear program.

But Kerry’s decision not to call Iran’s bluff

in December shows how months of clandestine

negotiations to free Rezaian and other

Americans became deeply intertwined with

the final push to implement the nuclear deal,

despite the official US line that those efforts

were separate.

A US official said there was no connection

between the nuclear deal and the release of

the Americans.

The prisoner swap could also come under

scrutiny from critics who have questioned the

Obama administration’s resolve in dealing with

Iran and ability to follow through on its pledge

to keep a hard line on sanctions outside those

imposed on its nuclear programme.

The episode was one of several diplomatic

Call to free scribe

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna yesterday.

“Great Satan” and part of the “axis of

evil”. “Today, with the release of the

IAEA chief’s report, the nuclear deal

will be implemented, after which a joint

statement will be made to announce

the beginning of the deal,” Zarif was

quoted as saying in Vienna by state news

agency Irna. “Today is a good day for

the Iranian people as sanctions will be

lifted today,” the Isna agency quoted

him as saying.

The sanctions have cut Iran off from

the global financial system, drastically

reduced the exports of a major oil producer

and imposed severe economic

hardship on ordinary Iranians. Most

will be lifted immediately.

Iranian media reported that four

Iranian-Americans held in Iran had

been released and seven Iranian-Americans

held in the United States would

also be freed under the prisoner swap.

US State Department officials declined

immediate comment.

The four held in Iran include Washington

Post bureau chief Jason Rezaian,

held since 2014 and convicted in Iran

of espionage. His case in particular has

been a notable obstacle to a thaw in

Iranian-US relations.

Even before the expected announcement

that sanctions would be lifted,

Iran’s Mehr news agency reported yesterday

that executives from two of the

world’s largest oil companies, Shell and

Total, had arrived in Tehran for talks

with state firms.

Under the deal, Iran has agreed to

forego enrichment of uranium, which

world powers feared could be used to

make a nuclear weapon. Once sanctions

are lifted, Iran plans to swiftly ramp up

its exports of oil. Global companies that

have been barred from doing business

there will be able to exploit a market

hungry for everything from automobiles

to airplane parts.

Iran’s expected return to an already

glutted market is one of the main factors

contributing to a global rout in oil

prices, which fell below $30 a barrel

this week for the first time in 12 years.

Tehran says it could boost exports by

500,000 barrels per day within weeks

and 500,000 more within a year, in a

world already producing 1.5 million barrels

a day more than it consumes and

running out of storage space to hold it.

The deal is opposed by all of the Republican

candidates vying to succeed Obama

as president in an election in November,

and is viewed with deep suspicion

by US allies in the Middle East including

Israel and Saudi Arabia.

US blinked on new sanctions after Iran’s warning

and military near misses between Iran and

the United States in recent weeks, including

a quickly defused crisis when 10 US

sailors were detained after entering Iranian


Details of the prisoner talks were a closely

held secret, so even within the Obama administration

few people realised how perilously

close the swap came to falling through.

On December 29, Kerry told Zarif the United

States intended to impose new sanctions on

Iran over the missile test firings, which were

deemed to have violated a United Nations ban,

according to a US official and congressional

sources. Zarif countered that if Washington

went ahead, the prisoner swap was off, the

sources said.

Kerry spoke by phone that night with Treasury

Secretary Jack Lew and a White House

official and the decision was made to hold off

on any sanctions announcement, they said.

Obama’s role in the unfolding drama was not


Zarif’s ability to fend off new US sanctions,

even temporarily, may have bought him some

breathing space with Iranian hardliners who

oppose the terms of nuclear deal. They have

insisted that any new sanctions would be a

show of bad faith by Washington.

But a bureaucratic misstep almost undid

Kerry and Lew’s decision. Word of their lastminute

intervention to delay the sanctions never

filtered down to working-level officials at the

State Department during the holiday lull.

Unaware of the change of plan, the State

officials went ahead and quietly informed key

congressional offices the next morning about

the new Iran sanctions targeting about a dozen

companies and individuals. They included copies

of a news release that the Treasury Department

intended to issue.

Officials then abruptly pulled back, telling

congressional staffers the announcement

had been “delayed for a few hours,” according

to an email seen by Reuters. The next day

the State Department emailed that sanctions

were delayed because of “evolving diplomatic

work that is consistent with our national security


Administration officials then told some

congressional staffers confidentially that something

big involving Iran was in the works, in

an apparent attempt to tamp down criticism

from Capitol Hill, a congressional source said.

Leading lawmakers, including some of

Obama’s fellow Democrats, chided the White

House for delaying the sanctions package and

suggested it could embolden Iran to further

threaten its neighbors and destabilize the Middle


The nuclear deal signed on July 14 between

Iran and world powers had been widely hailed

as a major boost for Obama’s legacy. But he

also faced criticism for refusing to make the

accord contingent on Iran’s release of Americans

known to be held by Iran. The prisoners,

accused of spying and other charges, included

Rezaian and several other Iranian-Americans.

PKK apologises for killing

kids in Turkey car bombing

ADEN: A drone strike killed three

suspected al Qaeda militants in an

overnight attack in central Yemen,

a local official said yesterday, as a

US campaign goes on amid a wider

civil war in the country.

The apparent US drone attack

targeted a car travelling on Friday

night in the Ruqot area of eastern

Shabwa province, a remote desert

area where Al Qaeda militants are

believed to be operating. It was the

first such attack reported this year.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

(AQAP) has taken advantage

of a conflict pitting Houthi militiamen

against forces loyal to President

Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to grab territory

and operate more openly.

It seized control of two towns in

southern Yemen at the beginning

of December, deploying fighters

on the streets and blowing up the

house of a local tribal militia commander

before withdrawing.

The brother and the wife of Palestinian journalist Mohammed Al Qiq (portrait) who

is on hunger strike, join members of the Palestinian journalists syndicate during a

demonstration demanding the release of Al Qiq from Israeli jail, in the West Bank

town of Bethlehem, yesterday. Al Qiq, a 33-year-old reporter for Saudi TV channel Al

Majd, was arrested in November and placed under administrative detention.


ANKARA: Kurdish PKK rebels while claiming

responsibility yesterday for a car bombing

in southeast Turkey this week apologised for

having killed civilians and especially three children

in the attack.

Two civilians were killed in the initial bombing

near a police station by the Kurdistan Workers’

Party (PKK) in the town of Cinar, and three more

lost their lives when a building collapsed due

to damage caused by the blast, local officials

said after the attack on Thursday.

Security sources said the victims in the building

collapse were a five-month-old baby, a boy

aged five and a girl aged one.

One policeman also died in the attack.

“It is clear that civilians should never be our

target in accordance with the general line and

political objectives of our movement. The target

of this action was the security forces,” the

PKK said in a statement reported by the pro-

Kurdish news agency Firat.

“In spite of our efforts not to hurt civilians,

we want to convey our sadness that several of

them died and we extend our condolences to

their families,” added the PKK while also promising

to continue attacks against Turkish forces

The PKK launched an insurgency against

the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for

Kurdish independence although it now presses

more for greater autonomy and rights for the

country’s largest ethnic minority.

A new upsurge of violence between the security

forces and the PKK erupted in July following

attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, shattering

a fragile two-and-a-half-year truce.

Meanwhile, the remains of 10 Germans killed

in a suicide attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul

were flown home yesterday.

The bodies of those killed in Tuesday’s attack,

which has been blamed on the Islamic State

group, were put on a plane at Ataturk International

Airport to be flown back to Germany for

burial. Another 17 people, mostly German tourists,

were wounded in the attack in the historic

heart of Istanbul, near the famed Blue Mosque

and Hagia Sophia, a towering former Byzantine

church that was turned into a mosque before

later becoming a museum.



Indonesia identifies five

militants and arrests 12

Police spokesman

Anton Charliyan

said the Jakarta five

and the 12 others

who were arrested

had plans to attack

cities elsewhere in

Indonesia, including

Bandung, which

lies some 120km

southeast of the



JAKARTA: Indonesian police yesterday

named the five men they suspect

launched this week’s gun and bomb

attack in Jakarta, which was claimed

by Islamic State, and said they had

arrested 12 people linked to the plot

who planned to strike other cities.

As investigators pieced together

clues from the radical group’s first

attack on Indonesia, neighbouring

Malaysia said it had arrested a man in

Kuala Lumpur who had confessed to

planning a suicide attack in the country.

“We ... have carried out acts of

force. We have done searches, we have

made arrests and we have obtained

evidence connected with the terrorist

bombing at Sarinah,” Jakarta police

spokesman Mohammad Iqbal told a

news conference.

“We will not say how many people

or what sort of evidence we have as

it will upset out strategy. Be patient,

when the case is closed and things are

clear we will disclose them.”

Seven people, including the militants,

were killed in Thursday’s attack

near the Sarinah department store in

the Indonesian capital’s commercial

district. About 30 people were hurt.

Police held up pictures of the dead

and wounded at the news conference,

including a man who kicked off the

siege by blowing himself up in a Starbucks


Another attacker, who opened

fire with a gun outside the cafe, was

named as Afif. A National Counter-

Terrorism Agency spokesman said

Afif had served seven years in prison,

where he refused to cooperate with a

de-radicalisation programme.

The brazenness of the Jakarta

assault, which had echoes of marauding

gun and bomb attacks such as the

Paris siege in November, suggested

a new brand of militancy in a country

where extremists typically launch

low-level strikes on police.

Police spokesman Anton Charliyan

said the Jakarta five and the 12

others who were arrested had plans

to attack cities elsewhere in Indonesia,

including Bandung, which lies

some 120km southeast of the capital.

“There were general plans targeting

certain places like police and

government offices, foreigners or those

cooperating with foreign entities,”

Charliyan told reporters.


In Malaysia, the country’s police

chief said a suspected militant who was

arrested in a metro station in Kuala

Lumpur on Friday had confessed to

planning a suicide attack.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid

Abu Bakar said the 28-year-old

Malaysian planned to carry out the

attack in the country after receiving

orders from a foreign member of

Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“The suspect is also responsible

for hanging IS flags at several locations

... to warn the government to

stop arresting IS members in Malaysia,”

Khalid said in a statement.

No details were given about where

and how he planned to attack.

Khalid said three other people suspected

of being supporters of Islamic

State were arrested this week at Kuala

Lumpur airport after they returned

from Turkey.

Malaysia has been on high alert

since Thursday’s siege in Jakarta. Security

has been beefed up in public areas

and borders have been tightened to

prevent jihadis getting into the country.

Earlier yesterday, Indonesia said

it had shut down at least 11 radical

websites and several social media

accounts, including several on Facebook

that expressed support for the

Jakarta attack.

“We are monitoring many websites

and public complaints about

this,” said Ismail Cawidu, a public

relations official at the communications

ministry. The government also

sent letters to social media companies

such as Facebook, Twitter and

Telegram requesting radical material

be immediately blocked or taken

down, Cawidu said.

The alleged mastermind behind

the Jakarta attack, an Indonesian citizen

fighting with Islamic State in Syria,

is believed to have used social media

extensively to share his beliefs about

the group and communicate with contacts

in Indonesia using blog posts and

mobile messaging apps.

Authorities believe there are at

least 1,000 Islamic State sympathisers

in Indonesia, which has the world’s

largest Muslim population.

Philippine poll candidates warned

Filipina broadcaster Korina Sanchez-Roxas, wife of presidential contender Mar Roxas, throws wristbands

during feast of Sto Nino in Manila, Philippines, yesterday. Philippine Comelec warned candidates

of ‘premature campaigning’ — electioneering conducted before the official campaign period. The

Philippines will hold its presidential and national elections on May 9, 2016. More than 18,000 positions

are up for grabs, including president, vice-president, senators, congressional representatives, provincial

governors, city and town mayors and vice mayors.

Nepal post-quake reconstruction plan

Nepal’s President Bidhya Bhandari Devi unveils a plaque as she formally starts the postquake

reconstruction campaign in Kathmandu yesterday. Nine months after the April 25

earthquake that hit Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring hundreds others, the

National Reconstruction Authority is set to start post-quake reconstruction work.

Jailed Maldives ex-president

to seek surgery in Britain


MALÉ: The Maldives’ opposition

leader Mohamed Nasheed, who

is serving a 13-year jail term following

a controversial trial, has

been allowed to travel to Britain

for surgery, the Maldives government

said yesterday.

Nasheed, who became the

country’s first democratically

elected leader in 2008, has complained

of a spinal cord problem

requiring specialist surgery that

is not available in the small Indian

Ocean archipelago.

“The government of the

Republic of Maldives has granted

permission to former president

Mohamed Nasheed to travel to the

United Kingdom to undertake a

surgery at his request,” the foreign

ministry said in a brief statement.

The concession was on the

“condition (Nasheed) serve the

remainder of the sentence upon

return to the Maldives after the

surgery”, it said. Nasheed’s lawyers

had demanded for months

that he be allowed specialist treatment


A spokeswoman for the exleader’s

Maldivian Democratic

Party said lawyers were meeting

with Nasheed at a prison island

near the capital Saturday following

the hardline government’s surprise


The 48-year-old was confined

to jail in March 2015 on terror

charges relating to the arrest of

an allegedly corrupt judge in 2012,

when he was still in power.

The UN has said his trial was

seriously flawed and that he should

be released and provided compensation

for wrongful detention.

The government of President

Abdulla Yameen has refused

the accept the UN ruling and is

resisting international pressure

to release Nasheed.

His lengthy jail sentence was

commuted to house arrest in July,

but two months later police took

him back to prison, in a surprise

move that drew fresh criticism

from the UN and the United States.

Bus operator in

Japan crash

‘violated’ safety



TOKYO: A Japanese bus operator

whose vehicle plunged off a

mountain road, killing 14 people

and injuring dozens more, is suspected

by officials of violating safety

regulations, local media reported


Young skiers — many in their

teens or early 20s — were asleep

on the bus when it careened off the

road before dawn in the ski resort

town of Karuizawa on Friday, the

country’s worst such accident for 25

years. Twelve students aged between

19 and 22 as well as the driver and

a second driver were all killed, and

26 others injured.

Police are investigating bus

operator ESP and Keyth Tour, a

Tokyo travel agency which organised

the ski package tour, but authorities

have yet to announce the cause

of the accident. Transport Minister

Keiichi Ishii yesterday visited

the site, from where the wrecked

vehicle had already been removed,

with the gnarled crash barrier still

showing the impact of the collision.

Police suspect the driver lost

control as he tried to make a sharp

turn after the bus hit the barrier,

according to broadcaster NHK.

But the Transport Ministry suspects

the bus company may have

violated safety regulations — by

failing to give the driver written

instructions on what route to take

— according to the Yomiuri Shimbun

and the Mainichi Shimbun newspapers.

One expert quoted by the

Yomiuri also suggested the bus operator

may be at fault.

“I suspect the bus operating

company’s negligent safety management

could be behind the accident,”

said Hajime Tozaki, professor of

public transport policy at Waseda

University. The accident occurred

only days after authorities imposed

penalties on the company for failing

to give required medical checkups

to some drivers. The operator did

not immediately comment but the

travel agency boss denied the company

neglected safety standards.

Self-harm at Australia detention

centres once every two days


SYDNEY: Self-harm by asylum-seekers

being held at Australia’s offshore detention

centres takes place on average once every

two days, a report said yesterday, with some

prospective refugees swallowing poison,

cutting themselves and attempting suicide.

Under Canberra’s hardline immigration

policy, Australia sends asylum-seekers that

attempt to arrive by boat to the Pacific islands

of Papua New Guinea and Nauru for processing.

They are barred from being resettled in

Australia even if found to be refugees.

The Fairfax Media report, using Immigration

Department logs obtained through

Freedom of Information laws, found there

were 188 self-harm incidents involving asylum

seekers in Nauru in the 12 months to

July 2015. Self-harm incidents at the Manus

Island camp on PNG numbered 55 for the

same period. An immigration department

spokesman said the number of self-harm

incidents at the two offshore camps “have

reduced considerably in recent months”.

“Where an individual in a regional

processing centre threatens self-harm or

actually self-harms they are immediately

provided with both counselling and medical

services,” the spokesman added.

“The services provided in both Nauru

and Papua New Guinea are broadly comparable

with health services available within

the Australian community.”













Change in Taiwan

Taiwanese have voted for change. Tsai Ing-wen of the main

opposition party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sealed

a historic landslide victory in the presidential election

which is set to reset the state’s relationship with China. Her

victory ends eight years of rule by the Kuomintang (KMT or

Nationalist Party) president Ma Ying-jeou, during which there has been

an unprecedented thaw in relations between the self-ruled island and

China. The voters were unhappy with Ma Ying-jeou’s policy of leaning

too close to China which they thought had failed to deliver significant

economic gains and was seen as undermining the freedom of the island

and Beijing. The economy too had weakened under Ma Ying-jeou,

especially last year, provoking public anger. A postgraduate from the

London School of Economics, Tsai is the first female president of Taiwan

who had narrowly lost out on the presidency four years ago.

Beijing is clearly unhappy with Tsai’s victory as she is expected

to reverse the improvement in ties between the two countries. The

president-elect has already adopted a strident tone by issuing a warning

to China in her first comments to the media, by saying that Chinese

‘suppression’ would damage ties with

the mainland. “Our democratic system,

national identity and international

The landslide

space must be respected. Any forms

victory of Tsai of suppression will harm the stability

of cross-strait relations,” she said. Her

Ing-wen as

tough words would satisfy the people

new president who have voted for her. Beijing too

is certain to

reacted in anger. A foreign ministry

spokesman warned that “the Chinese

unsettle relations

government is rock-firm and will

with China.

never tolerate any secessionist activity

of ‘Taiwan independence’”. And in a

strongly-worded editorial, China’s

official state news agency, Xinhua,

said the DPP’s return to power “poses grave challenges to cross-Strait

relations” and had “aroused concerns” about Taipei’s relationship with

Beijing. Tsai also disappeared from China’s most popular social network

following her victory, with censors working swiftly to block searches for

“Tsai Ing-wen” and “Taiwan elections” on the Twitter-like Weibo network.

Now that she has been elected, Tsai will have to move cautiously

in her relationship with the mainland. An open confrontation will be

inimical to the island’s interests and will adversely impact the state’s

economy and her attempts to revive it. She needs to focus on improving

the economy and address the many problems the state is facing. Low

salaries and high housing prices are major issues with voters. Taiwanese

want a strong a leader and her efficiency and leadership skills will be put

to fierce test in the coming months.

Taiwan is self-ruling after it split with China following a civil war in

1949, but it has never declared independence and Beijing still sees it as

part of its territory and is awaiting reunification.

Quote of the day

We have a million problems

but at the same time we have

over a billion minds. We want

to start a system of

hand-holding for start-ups.

The government will be like a

friend and a mentor.

Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister

For Republicans, it’s now

a Trump-Cruz race

The debate brought

an abrupt end to

the chumminess

that long existed

between Trump and

Cruz. The billionaire

mogul and the

Texas senator were

at loggerheads

on Friday as

they sought to


each other

By Philip Rucker

and Robert Costa

The Washington Post

As the presidential

primary race

moves into a more

urgent and combative

phase, there

is growing acceptance among

Republicans, including the

Washington and financial elite,

that Donald Trump and Ted

Cruz are the two candidates

most likely to become the party’s


Their commanding performances

at the sixth debate

— along with their continued

dominance in national and

early state polls — have solidified

the conclusion of many

Republicans that the campaign

is becoming a two-person


Long expected to become a

race between an outsider and

an establishment candidate, it

is coming down instead as one

between two outsiders, with

dwindling time for their rivals

to change the trajectory before

the Iowa caucuses on February


There is hope that one of the

four establishment candidates

may emerge as a consensus

choice and consolidate support.

The two who seem best positioned

to do so, Senator Marco

Rubio of Florida and New Jersey

Governor Chris Christie,

had some sparkling moments in

Thursday’s Fox Business Channel

debate but left the stage

bruised and squabbling. They

returned to the campaign trail

on Friday aiming more firepower

at one another than

Trump or Cruz. “Trump and

Cruz sucked all the oxygen out

of the room, which is bad news

for the establishment folks,”

said Barry Bennett, a veteran

GOP strategist who recently

resigned as campaign manager

to Ben Carson. “It doesn’t look

like much is going to stop them.

They’re in a tier off to themselves,

and I think our nominee

is going to be Cruz or Trump.”

Republican donors, who

had long assumed that the

outsider candidates would selfdestruct

and that voters would

rally around someone such as

former Florida governor Jeb

Bush, are suddenly adjusting

their thinking and strategies.

Spencer Zwick, the national

finance chairman for Mitt

Romney’s 2012 campaign,

said power brokers and financiers

are now trying to cozy up

to Trump in various ways, such

as reaching out through mutual

friends in New York’s business


“A lot of donors are trying

to figure their way into Trump’s

orbit. There is a growing feeling

among many that he may be the

guy, so people are certainly seeing

if they can find a home over

there,” he said.

Zwick cautioned that he

does not necessarily predict

that Trump will win, only that

he could, and said some of these

donors are talking regularly

with other candidates as well.

“I’ve never subscribed to the

view that [Trump] can’t be the

nominee, that ‘Oh, don’t worry’

take on things,” he said. “It’s

naive and foolish to think he

can’t be the nominee.”

In another sign of acceptance

of the frontrunner, Brett

O’Donnell, a longtime debate

coach for GOP presidential

candidates, said Trump’s performance

skills have improved

notably and have enhanced his

reputation among the political


“He is starting to get the art

of political debate,” O’Donnell

said. “He’s starting to understand

how to drive a message,

how to seize the competitive

advantage over his opponents.

When he first started out, he

would just say awful things and

mix it up. Trump has now figured

out how to sound more


Trump says he is rejecting

large campaign donations,

though he has relied heavily on

small-dollar donations as well

as his own money to fund his


Cruz, who has a more traditional

finance operation, is

aggressively courting establishment

financiers. He held a

fundraiser Monday at the New

Orleans home of Mary Matalin,

a Bush family loyalist and close

adviser to former vice-president

Richard B Cheney, and drew

support there from some traditional

party players.

Heading into the Iowa caucuses,

the fault lines are drawn.

“This has become a twoperson

race: Cruz and Trump,”

said Bob VanderPlaats, a prominent

Iowa evangelical leader

who is backing Cruz. “There

were almost tears on the stage.

You could sense it, feel it and

see it.” The debate brought an

abrupt end to the chumminess

that long existed between

Trump and Cruz. The billionaire

mogul and the Texas senator,

who have thrown political

correctness to the wind, were

at loggerheads Friday as they

sought to undermine each other.

Their debate-night argument

over whether the

Canadian-born Cruz meets the

constitutional requirements to

serve as president spilled onto

the campaign trail Friday in

Iowa, where Trump revived his

so-called “birther” attack in a

CNN interview.

He also hit Cruz over his

recent admission that he had

failed to properly disclose a

loan during his 2012 Senate


Meanwhile, Cruz is starting

to make an assertive case

that Trump is an untrustworthy

and unprincipled conservative.

At the debate, the senator raised

Trump’s past claim that he had

“New York values,” charging

that his once-liberal views on

social issues were out of step

with red America.

Trump got the better of

Cruz by calmly and emotionally

recalling New York City’s

painful recovery from the

September 11, 2001, terrorist


But Cruz advisers believe

the “New York values” attack

will have lasting currency

among conservatives in Iowa


Through social media and

releases to reporters, the Cruz

campaign pushed out archival

footage of Trump in a 1999

interview on NBC’s Meet the

Press with the late moderator

Tim Russert saying that his

“New York values” were different

than “Iowa values.”

“It’s a two-person race,”

Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler

said. “There is no one in the

moderate lane who seems to

be emerging. The party doesn’t

seem to want to elect a moderate.

Our argument is, there is

only one conservative who has

a path.”

Some outside strategists

are less bullish on Cruz, however.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a former

Romney adviser, said Trump

remains intotal command

of the field.” He said Cruz has

yet to put the issue of his constitutional

eligibility to rest

and suggested he “produce his

own expert,” such as retired

Supreme Court justice Sandra

Day O’Connor, to issue a

statement confirming Cruz’s


“As long as there are

differing but inconclusive interpretations

of the law, it will

remain unresolved,” Fehrnstrom


Bush also remains a factor,

pushing hard against Trump

in particular during Thursday’s

debate and then landing the

endorsement on Friday of Senator

Lindsey O Graham, R-South

Carolina, who recently dropped

out as a 2016 contender.

For Rubio, his sights are set

on overtaking Cruz — though

his history pushing immigration

reform in 2013, which Cruz and

his allies have been highlighting,

stands as an obstacle.

Campaigning in New

Hampshire on Friday, Rubio

upped his tempo and darkened

his pitch, voicing anger that

echoed Trump. Rubio charged

as he did in the debate that the

Texas senator supports a European-style

value-added tax, or

VAT, referring to Cruz’s proposal

to replace corporate income

and payroll taxes with a “business

flat tax” of 16 percent. Cruz

disputes the VAT comparison.

At a Cruz event in Columbia,

South Carolina, a man

delivered Rubio campaign fliers

to reporters showing Cruz,

against a backdrop of the European

Union’s flag, as a sap for a

new tax on all goods. The man

dropped the folded document

like napalm and hot-footed it

out the door.

Ray Washburne, Christie’s

national finance chairman,

predicted the race would be

monopolised by Trump and

Cruz until a consensus choice

emerges from the field of four

establishment candidates,

which includes Ohio Governor

John Kasich. “We’re going down

a highway with Cruz driving

down one lane, Trump on

the other, and the other four —

Christie, Jeb, Marco and Kasich

— we’ve got a traffic jam,”

Washburne said. “Right now it’s

‘Let’s wait and see.’”

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The making of nightmares in Saudi

By Jamal Khashoggi

Iran’s nightmares surround Saudi Arabia

from every side. However, this is just

another in a long line of those within

Arabia, who seem to be determined to

create their own nightmares to divide

our society and weaken our determination.

A decade ago, I wrote an article entitled

“Strengthening by making nightmares”. At

that time we were waking up about a religious

militancy that was affecting our society

and that had infiltrated our minds, schools

and platforms without us noticing. We did

not acknowledge this fact until the attacks

of 9/11 and the subsequent incidents that

took place. At that time under the leadership

of the crown, the late King Abdullah,

we began to gradually move towards openness

and deny extremism a foothold. His

words then were a crescendo for intellectuals

when he said, “we are part of the world

and we cannot be apart” (from it).

At that time there were some who

were trying to keep us isolated from the

entire world, under the pretext of privacy,

and religious and intellectual differences.

Making nightmares is an old tactic

used by ideological or fascist

movements to frighten the public

about what they want them to

consider is an imminent danger, and

then the danger is named in order to

mobilise supporters

Such arguments were sometimes presented

through our school curriculums and religious

platforms. The opponents of openness

tried to intimidate people by saying that

this would westernize our societies, violate

our social and cultural privacies, and

that the kingdom was targeted as the last

state ruled by Sharia law.

Making nightmares is an old tactic

used by ideological or fascist movements

to frighten the public about what they want

them to consider is an imminent danger,

and then the danger is named in order to

mobilize supporters.

In the 1980s, mainstream religious leaders

in Saudi Arabia led the first campaign

against modernity- and created nightmares.

The nightmares were associated with accusations

of Westernisation, Liberalism and

Secularism, naming targeted individuals

perhaps because they were a novelist, a

poet or even a minister. The religious leaders

misquoted them, applied political analysis

to the incorrect quotes, and then they presented

those figures as imminent dangers,

warning people about them.

Osama bin Laden presented to us, in

a meeting held at the beginnings of the

Kuwait liberation war, a pessimistic view

about the future of the Kingdom — talking

about the American conspiracy to change

the regime, end the Sharia law and Westernise

the country. This was a reaction to

the many American soldiers then camped

in Arabia. Such views only helped the leader

of an ideological movement to mobilize

his supporters to defend the country from

the alleged nightmare he had conjured up.

I frequently use the term “the making

of nightmare” to convey the danger of such

views which aim to disunite the society and

spread suspicion. This ideological movement

was creating enmity between the government

and its people, between colleagues in

universities, and even in the media- spreading

the habit of writing reports against each

other, searching for the hidden intentions

of individuals. I experienced this with the

followers of the then “religious awakening”

leaders and one of them, who is still

active in making nightmares, insulted me

in a poor poem written in poor language.

Today, again I criticise the “makers of

nightmares”. But this time they are the liberals

who were previously being described

by the religious groups as a danger to the

country, deserving deportations and exclusion.

These former liberals then started using

the same tactics that their opponents had

been using against them. We see some of

them warning us of the danger of the Muslim

Brotherhood in the kingdom, describing

A policeman carries out an inspection after a car exploded near a mosque in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

them as danger greater than IS (Da’esh),

calling for their exclusion and dismissal

from influential positions.

Some of them incited opinions against

the ‘Surooriyyah’ (Salafi movement attributed

to Mohammed Suroor) describing them

as the most imminent danger and calling for

their eradication! Yes ‘eradication’ which

is a Nazi word and I don’t know how many

camps we will need in the desert for their

‘eradication’. But none of the nightmare

makers identify who are the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’

or the ‘Surooriyyah’ that they are

describing as secret organisations.

The result is a contagious disease of

obsession, suspicions and accusations. Just

as the innovative poet was being accused by

the patriotic sheikhs and jealous guardians

of religion as a promoter of modernity, today

liberals are accusing religiously committed

persons or those who care about Gaza

strip of being conspirators, or of being in the

Muslim Brotherhood, or part of the alleged

conspiracy of the American-Qatari-Turkish

alliance to overthrow ruling regimes

in the region.

It is waste of time bringing together or

making sense of all these ideological “nightmares”

because none of them provoked the

others, and they have no proofs to back up

their accusations. The solution is to spread

the culture of pluralism, freedom of speech,

and respect the right of people to dissent as

long as it is within the general order. The

Saudi cabinet expressed similar views to

this in Ramadan 2008, when the late King

Abdullah stated that “the kingdom always

seeks to consolidate basic values of Islam

such as justice, equality, Takaful (solidarity),

tolerance and the right of people to a

decent life, and freedom to disagree to the

extent permitted by Sharia.”

Previously I directed my criticism at the

religious mainstream, but I now I find that

liberals this time are acting and behaving

in the same way.

Inciting discourses and polarisation must

end, and the elite of the liberals must stop

and prevent their followers from doing this.

Otherwise we are all going to be the losers,

because our views will not match, and ours

thoughts and opinions regarding various

aspects of life will remain different. This

could be a problem for some of us, but pluralism

and diversity is power for peace, and

we need to show more tolerance, which is

a genuine part of our religion.

Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi Arabian

journalist, columnist, and author, and

the General Manager and Editor-in-

Chief of Al Arab News Channel.

The solution is to

spread the culture

of pluralism,

freedom of speech,

and respect the

right of people to

dissent as long as it

is within the general


Money hasn’t saved Jeb, but it still warps politics

Looking to Congress

and the states, we

can see that the

era of big money

unleashed by the

Supreme Court is

hurtling us towards

a plutocracy in

which the people

with the greatest

economic power

can wield great

political power

through campaign

donations and


By Richard L Hasen

The Washington Post


t is easy to dismiss as overblown

the concern about the outsize

role of ultra-rich donors in the

American political scene. Exhibit

1: Jeb Bush. Bush’s $100m in super PAC

fundraising was supposed to be part

of a shock-and-awe campaign that

would scare away competitors and

give him a smooth path to the Republican

presidential nomination. Well, it

hasn’t worked out that way. Bush has

been polling toward the bottom in

the Republican race despite the war

chest, and Donald Trump, who has

spent little on his campaign despite

his billionaire status, has been on top.

“Hurrah for Citizens United,”

Politico’s Jack Shafer wrote in one

representative piece. He asserted that

worries about the 2010 Supreme Court

ruling have been proved wrong. “Expectations

that big money would float the

best-financed candidate directly to

the White House have yet to materialise

this campaign season.”

But this overly simplistic analysis

misses the key role of money in

contemporary American politics. In

spite of the rhetoric of some campaign

reformers, money doesn’t buy elections.

Instead, it increases the odds of electoral

victory and of getting one’s way

on policies, tax breaks and government

contracts. And the presidential race

is the place we are least likely to see

money’s effects. Looking to Congress

and the states, though, we can see that

the era of big money unleashed by the

Republicans Jeb Bush (left) and Senator Lindsey Graham shake hands

in Amherst, New Hampshire.

Supreme Court is hurtling us toward

a plutocracy in which the people with

the greatest economic power can wield

great political power through campaign

donations and lobbying.

Bush is simply the latest in a long

line of politicians whose candidacies

demonstrate that all the money in the

world won’t make people buy a bad

product. Consider former eBay executive

Meg Whitman, who spent $140m in

her bid to beat Jerry Brown in the California

governor’s race in 2010. The more

she spent, the less voters liked her. Or

take Dave Brat, the barely known Virginia

college professor who spent less

on his successful Republican primary

challenge to former House majority

leader Eric Cantor than Cantor’s campaign

spent on meals at steakhouses.

There’s no easy correlation between

money spent on politics and electoral


Money, nonetheless, does matter

to elections. Just 158 out of 120 million

American families have donated

nearly half the money that’s been spent

on the 2016 presidential contest. Bush,

Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and other

candidates remain viable only because

of super-wealthy donors. Without the

new super PACs, they couldn’t have

withstood such dismal poll numbers.

The same was true in 2012. Billionaire

Sheldon Adelson’s $20m contribution

to a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich

kept Gingrich in the race and gave

voters a second and third and fourth

look at the candidate.

And yet a single donor’s influence

in presidential contests is tempered

by other factors. With billions of dollars

sloshing around on all sides, so

much free media attention (especially

to outlandish candidacies like

Trump’s) and widespread public interest,

mega-donors are only one part of

a larger picture.

Money can matter more to the

outcomes of congressional and state

races because of relative scale. Millions

of dollars spent in these contests

can swamp the competition and help

swing close elections, especially by

influencing low-information voters.

Merely the threat of such spending

gets the attention of candidates, who

worry about the next super PAC to line

up against them.

Even more significant, big money

skews public policy in the direction

of the wealthiest donors. In Illinois,

a handful of the super-rich, including

hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth

C Griffin, played a key role in getting

Republican Bruce Rauner elected

governor with an agenda to slash government

spending, impose term limits

and weaken employee unions. Hedge

funds have used campaign money and

lobbying to block a potential bankruptcy

declaration by Puerto Rico that

could help its people but hurt bondholders’


We’re supposed to be in a postearmark

era, yet Congress’s recent

must-pass omnibus bill to fund the

government was full of special interest

deals backed by big spenders. The New

York Times reported that “as congressional

leaders were hastily braiding

together a tax and spending bill of more

than 2,000 pages, lobbyists swooped

in to add 54 words that temporarily

preserved a loophole sought by the

hotel, restaurant and gambling industries,

along with billionaire Wall Street

investors, that allowed them to put

real estate in trusts and avoid taxes.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry

Reid supported the language, and

the company of one of Reid’s top

donors admitted to being among those

involved in the discussions with congressional

staff members.”

This is how money influences

American politics these days. In the

wake of Citizens United, donors can

spend ever greater sums in ever closer

coordination with their supported candidates.

Loose campaign finance rules

grease the wheels for industry lobbyists

to work in the shadows, securing

big private benefits in bills the public

scarcely pays attention to. The threat of

big money scares politicians away from

taking positions against the donor class.

The legacy of Citizens United is

not about the ultra-wealthy simply

buying elections or about politicians

on the take. Money can’t buy you Jeb.

Instead, we face a subtler but equally

pernicious rise of a plutocratic class

capturing private benefits for personal


Hasen is the chancellor’s professor

of law and political science

at the University of California at

Irvine and the author of “Plutocrats


All thoughts and views expressed in these columns are those of the writers, not of the newspaper.

All correspondence regarding Views and Opinion pages should be mailed to the Editor-in-Chief.



Taiwan opposition wins presidency

“Our democracy,

national identity

and international

space must be fully

respected and any

suppression would

undermine stability

of cross-Strait

relations,” Tsai

Ing-wen said


TAIPEI : Taiwan’s independence-leaning

opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen won

a convincing victory in presidential

election yesterday and pledged to maintain

peace with China, which claims

the island as its own, though vowed

to firmly defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Tsai, leader of the Democratic Progressive

Party (DPP), will be thrust

into one of Asia’s toughest and most

dangerous jobs, with China pointing

hundreds of missiles at the island, decades

after losing Nationalists fled from

Mao Zedong’s Communists to Taiwan

in the Chinese civil war.

Tsai risks antagonising China if she

attempts to forcefully assert Taiwan’s

sovereignty and reverses eight years

of warming China ties under incumbent

President Ma Ying-jeou of the

Nationalists, whose forces retreated

to Taiwan in 1949.

Tsai said she would establish “consistent,

predictable and sustainable”

relations with China and not be provocative,

to ensure the status quo.

“Both sides have a responsibility to

do their utmost to find mutually acceptable

ways to interact with respect and

reciprocity and ensure no provocation

and no surprises,” Tsai added, having

taken more than half the vote.

She added, however, that she would

defend Taiwan’s interests and its sovereignty.

China has not renounced the


TAIPEI: A row over a teenage Taiwanese

K-pop star forced to apologise for

waving the island’s flag was rapidly

turning into an international incident

yesterday, stealing the spotlight

from Taiwan’s presidential elections.

Leadership candidates running

for office in pivotal vote demanded

answers from China and South Korea

after the video apology from a tired

and sombre Chou Tzu-yu, 16, went

viral, with more than 2.6 million hits.

The controversy dominated news

coverage in Taiwan on election day,

with China ties a key issue for voters.

“There is only one China and the

two sides are one,” Chou said in the

apology, posted on YouTube by South

Korean agency JYP Entertainment.

“As a Chinese person my improper

words and behaviour during my activities

abroad hurt my company and the

feelings of netizens across the strait,”

Chou added. “I have decided to stop

my activities in China for now to seriously

reflect on myself.”

Based in South Korea, Chou is a

singer with all-girl band TWICE.

She waved Taiwan’s official flag

on a recent online broadcast, angering

Chinese netizens, with suggestions

she was pushing a pro-Taiwan independence


Taiwan has ruled itself since a split

with the Chinese mainland in 1949

after a civil war, but has never formally

declared independence.

Beijing sees it as part of its territory

awaiting reunification, by force

if necessary.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office

blamed “political forces in Taiwan”

for using Chou’s case to “provoke conflict”,

according to a report from state

news agency Xinhua, posted on the

affairs office website.

“Compatriots on both sides of

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (centre) celebrates her victory in Taipei yesterday.

use of force to ensure eventual unification

with the island.

“Our democracy, national identity

and international space must be fully

respected and any suppression would

undermine the stability of cross-Strait

relations,” she said.

Support for the DPP has swelled

since 2014, when hundreds of students

occupied Taiwan’s parliament

for weeks protesting against a China

trade bill in the largest display of

anti-China sentiment the island had

seen in years.

Outside DPP headquarters, supporters

cried for joy. Optometrist David

Chen, 28, said he wanted Tsai to stand

the strait should be on high alert,”

the report said, citing an unnamed

TAO spokesman.

Both Taiwan’s main leadership

candidates defended Chou yesterday.

“A citizen of the Republic of China

(Taiwan’s official name) who shows

her recognition for the country should

not be suppressed and should not be

forced to say the opposite of what

she originally meant,” said presidential

frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen of the

Beijing-wary Democratic Progressive


“Our hearts are with all friends

who hold the flag and support the flag,”

said Eric Chu of the ruling Kuomintang

(KMT), set to be punished in the polls

for its Beijing-friendly stance.

up to China. “We’re not a part of China.

I definitely think we should exist as

two countries,” he said. “If it’s possible

for Tsai, I want her to push for

independence. More and more Taiwanese

people want this.”

Tsai, a lawyer, got an even stronger

mandate as the DPP also won parliamentary

polls which were being held

the same day, though the margin was

not immediately clear.

Tsai will have to balance the superpower

interests of China, which is also

Taiwan’s largest trading partner, and

the United States with those of her freewheeling,

democratic home.

The US State Department said

Taiwan K-pop star flag row

escalates after apology

Chou Tzu-yu, the only Taiwanese member of

K-Pop girl group TWICE, waves before her

departure to China at Gimpo Airport in Seoul,

South Korea, on January 10.

A statement from

the office of current

President Ma Yingjeou

said he had asked

officials to “clarify the

roles of the Korean and

Chinese sides in this

incident and demand

they seriously face it”.

Ma later said waving

the flag was not a

sign of being pro-independence

and it was

unacceptable that Chou

was forced to apologise.

There was also

anger online in Taiwan.

“A 16-year-old

girl is bullied by China.

I sure will go voting

today,” said one post

on Taiwan’s Apple Daily

newspaper website.

South Korean fans

described the teen as

a political victim and

criticised her agency for

kowtowing to China for


“This just shows

how blinkered China

is, using a child to

score political points,”

said one post on South Korea’s Naver

news portal. Analysts said the drama

could boost election turnout and may

help the DPP.

Media reports said a Chinese TV

channel had cancelled an upcoming

show featuring TWICE and that Chou

had also been pulled from endorsing

Chinese smartphone vendor Huawei

in the South Korean market.

Last year, US singer-songwriter

Katy Perry caused a stir in both Taiwan

and China when she appeared

on stage in Taipei draped in a Taiwanese

flag, while donning a gold dress

adorned with sunflowers — a symbol

of anti-China student protests in

Taiwan in 2014.

it looked forward to working with

Tsai. “We share with the Taiwan

people a profound interest in the

continuation of cross-Strait peace

and stability,” it said.

There was no immediate reaction

from Beijing to her election. The official

Xinhua news agency noted in a brief

report that Tsai had won the “Taiwan

region leaders’ election”.

In a statement carried by state

media earlier in the day, China’s Taiwan

Affairs Office repeated it would

not get involved in the election, saying

only that it was “paying attention

to across the Taiwan Strait”.

Perhaps fearful of allowing


OUAGADOUGOU: At least 26 people

from 18 countries were killed in

an attack by jihadist gunmen on a top

hotel and a restaurant in the capital of

Burkina Faso, before security forces

ended the siege yesterday and killed

four assailants.

A total of 126 people were freed,

including 33 wounded, from the fourstar

Splendid Hotel, popular with

Westerners and UN personnel, after

security forces retook the 147-room

facility and the Cappuccino restaurant

nearby in the early hours yesterday,

Interior Minister Simon Compaore said.

The jihadists’ assault had been

completely crushed by midday, a

security source said. Four jihadists,

including two women, were killed in

the counter-assault.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

(AQIM) claimed responsibility for the

attack saying it was “revenge against

discussion about democracy on an

island Beijing says it owns, Chinese censors

moved swiftly to block searches for

Tsai’s name on Weibo, China’s answer

to Twitter.

Tsai has been ambiguous on her

China policy, merely pledging, in public

anyway, to maintain the status quo.

Beijing has warned repeatedly that

hard-earned peace across the Taiwan

Strait could be affected by a Tsai win.

China has held out the “one country,

two systems” formula, under which the

British colony of Hong Kong returned

to China in 1997, as a solution for Taiwan.

But both the Nationalists and DPP

have rejected the idea.

France and the disbelieving West”,

according to a statement carried by

US-based monitoring group SITE.

The attackers were members of the

Al Murabitoun group based in Mali and

run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, SITE said.

The security source said at least 23

people from 18 countries were killed

in the jihadists’ assaults, adding that

the toll could yet rise.

Aside from the four jihadists killed,

a fifth attacker could be seen rushing

into a nearby bar, according to

witnesses who managed to escape.

President Roch Marc Christian

Kabore, who took office just last

month, visited the hotel but made

no immediate comment. Communication

Minister Remis Dandjinou said

the counter-assault was carried out

by Burkinabe troops with the support

of French special forces. He also

said that among those who escaped

unharmed was Labour Minister Clement


Earlier, a fire raged at the main

entrance of the hotel in Ouagodougou

N Korea seeks

peace treaty

for stopping

nuclear tests


SEOUL: North Korea said it could

stop its nuclear tests in exchange for

signing a peace treaty with the US

and a stop to annual military exercises

between the US and South


The North’s statement carried

by the state media late on Friday

was a repeat of past offers that have

been rejected by the US, which wants

Pyongyang to commit to a complete

abandonment of nuclear weapons.

An unnamed spokesman of the

North’s Foreign Ministry called the

purported hydrogen bomb test on

January 6 a justifiable move to ensure

its survival against external threats.

“In response to the US continuously

invading our sovereignty

and making threatening provocations,

we will acquire ourselves

with all possible nuclear attack and

nuclear retaliation abilities, but will

not thoughtlessly use our nuclear

weapons ,” the official Korean

Central News Agency quoted the

spokesman as saying. The spokesman

also called the South’s decision

to restart anti-Pyongyang propaganda

broadcasts along their tense

border an “odd” provocation.

The North is extremely sensitive

to outside criticism of the authoritarian

leadership of Kim Jong Un

and has been retaliating to Seoul’s

loudspeaker campaigns by flying

thousands of propaganda leaflets

across the border. Earlier in the

week, South Korean troops fired

20 machine gun warning shots after

a North Korean drone briefly crossed

the border.

The North’s H-bomb claims

have been met with widespread

condemnation and suspicion, but

also questions on how to stop the

country’s growing nuclear threat.

The Korean Peninsula remains

technically at war because the 1950-

53 conflict ended in an armistice,

not a peace treaty.

A view of damaged vehicles from two car bombs outside Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

26 dead in jihadist attack on Burkina hotel

and screams could be heard from

inside, while on the street outside

about 10 vehicles were set alight.

“It was horrible, people were sleeping

and there was blood everywhere.

They were firing at people at close

range,” Yannick Sawadogo, one of

those who escaped, said.

“We heard them speaking and they

were walking around people and firing

at people who were not dead. And

when they came out they started a fire.”

A French source meanwhile put

the death toll at 27 dead. With Ouagadougou

airport closed because of the

attack, and an Air France flight from

Paris to Ouagadougou was diverted

to neighbouring Niger.

A US defence official said Washington

could provide drone-based

surveillance. The Burkinabe army,

meanwhile, said a heavily-armed

group of about 20 people had also

carried out an attack on Friday near

the border with Mali, killing two people—

a police officer and a civilian

— and leaving two others wounded.



2,159 terrorists killed under NAP Sharif forms panel to

In a report presented

in the National

Assembly, the

Ministry of Interior

and Narcotics Control

said 332 persons had

been executed so far

under Anti-Terrorism



ISLAMABAD: A total of 2,159 terrorists

have been killed and 1,724 arrested by

the law enforcement agencies under the

Ban on YouTube

likely to be

lifted soon


KARACHI: Pakistan is likely to lift

the ban on YouTube within days to

reciprocate the move by Google, the

parent company, which launched

a localised version of the website

in the country earlier this week,

officials at the helm of developments


The internet giant, on Tuesday,

announced the launch of YouTube’s

localised versions for Nepal, Pakistan,

and Sri Lanka, addressing

Islamabad’s long-standing dispute

regarding of blasphemous content

on the world’s largest social video

sharing platform.

YouTube has remained blocked

in Pakistan since September 17, 2012,

a move initiated by Islamabad after

blasphemous content from its platform

was not removed.

Islamabad had asked Google

to launch a localised version of

YouTube, which would have bound

the latter to block Pakistani users’

access to blasphemous content as

per its community guidelines.

Despite several attempts, Google

and the Pakistani government failed

to reach any agreement. The internet

giant did not accept government’s

demand, leading to the ban, which

has now entered its fourth year.

However, Google has now

removed those objectionable videos

and launched a local version. which

means it will continue to remove

such videos in the future as well.

“We have clear community

guidelines, and when videos violate

those rules, we remove them. In

addition, where we have launched

YouTube locally and we are notified

that a video is illegal in that country,

we may restrict access to it,”

Google’s Communications Manager

National Action Plan (NAP) in Pakistan.

The Ministry of Interior and Narcotics

Control presented an achievement

report about NAP in the National

Assembly yesterday, which stated

that 332 persons had been executed

so far under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

The report stated that 98.3 million

SIMs had been blocked for dismantling

communication networks of terrorists.

At least 933 URLs and 10 websites

of militant organisations have also

been blocked by Ministry of Information

Technology (MoIT).

Budget was released to strengthen

and activate the National Counter-Terrorism

Authority (Nacta) and steps were

also taken to establish and strengthen

a Joint Intelligence Directorate.

The report stated that 2,337 cases

were registered for hate speeches

and material and 2,195 persons were

arrested while 73 shops were sealed.

Likewise, 9,164 cases were

Removing weeds

registered, 9,340 persons were arrested

and 2,452 pieces of equipment confiscated

for misuse of loudspeakers.

It added, 8,195 persons were

included in ‘fourth schedule’ and movement

of 2,052 people was restricted as

measures against re-emergence of proscribed

organisations and individuals.

Uniform registration and data form

was developed by Nacta and ITMP and

shared with stakeholders for registration

and regulation of madressahs. As

many as 167 madressahs in Sindh, 13

in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two in

Punjab were closed.

Under the NAP, list of activists and

proscribed organisations was shared

with the information ministry and

Pemra for strict implementation of

ban on glorification of terrorism in


A committee headed by Adviser to

the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs

Sartaj Aziz was constituted for Fata

reforms. Over 1,130 hardcore elements

were identified in Punjab and

649 persons were booked for facilitating

hate speeches.

Similarly, target killing in Karachi

decreased to 53 percent, murder

incidents declined to 50 percent, terrorism

incidents came down by 80

percent, dacoity 30 percent and extortion

by 56 percent in the biggest city of

the country due to Rangers operation.

A total of 69,179 criminals, 890

terrorists, 676 proclaimed offenders,

10,426 absconders, 124 kidnappers,

545 extortionists and 1,834 murderers

were also apprehended and 16,306

weapons seized during the Karachi


The report of interior minister said

steps were also taken for surrender of

those absconding in Balochistan and

reconciliation process. Likewise, 25

centres were established for registration

of Afghan refugees.

Capital Development Authority workers cut the overgrown grass and weeds along a road amid dense

fog on a cold winter morning in Islamabad.


PESHAWAR: Nearly 80 militants from

Pakistan’s North Waziristan region

surrendered to government forces in a

rare move that follows a dip in Taliban

violence in Pakistan, sources involved

in the deal said.

Tribal leaders, who asked not to

be quoted by name to avoid reprisals,

expressed cautious hope that other,

more senior leaders from the heavily

factionalised insurgency might

follow the men.

“I believe this is the beginning

and many more will follow them if

the surrendered militants are given

amnesty,” one tribal leader said, noting

the surrender might worsen internal

rifts among the militants.

The men came from a militia led by

Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a powerful leader

in North Waziristan, who has links the

Haqqani network, the most high-profile

threat to US forces in Afghanistan.

Their surrender was confirmed

by a Pakistani security official and

three tribal sources involved in negotiating

the deal.

Bahadur has traditionally fought

Afghan and Nato forces across

the nearby Afghan border rather

than Pakistani troops. A deputy of

his, Halim Khan, was reportedly

clear RTI draft law


ISLAMABAD: If the government of

Pakistan is to be believed this time,

the federal Right to Information (RTI)

law will soon become a reality, as

prime minister Nawaz Sharif (pictured)

has formed a committee to

clear the draft law without approval of

the cabinet. Minister for Information

Pervez Rashid said that a five-member

committee of PML-N lawmakers

will now finalise the draft law in a

meeting on January 21 and it will then

be laid before the house as a government


The law draft was approved by

the Senate Standing Committee on

Information in April 2014 but it has

been awaiting the cabinet’s approval

for two years.

The delay prompted strong criticism

from the opposition lawmakers

and civil society. However, experts

believe the draft law is one of the best

legislations on RTI in its current shape

if measured by global standards.

“Since the cabinet meeting has

not been taking place for a long time

and the (RTI) bill was getting delayed,

the prime minister decided to form a

committee to consider this law. This

is a way out to table the bill in Parliament

as soon as possible,” said the

minister. The committee, comprising

Pervez Rashid, Ahsan Iqbal, Anusha

Rahman Khan, Irfan Siddiqui and

Marriyum Aurangzeb, will formulate

recommendations on the Right

to Information Bill 2014.

“I am sending the draft to all the

members of the committee so that they

could study it before the meeting to

be held on Thursday and hopefully

the committee will clear it in single

sitting,” the minister said.

He said the draft approved by the

Senate committee will remain largely

unchanged. However, a senior official

of his ministry said the committee will

“re-evaluate” the purview of Federal

RTI Bill 2014 in light of changing

security dynamic.

Speaking at a national RTI seminar

organised by Pildat, Director General

Internal Publicity Wing of the Ministry

of Information Nasir Jamal said

the five-member PML-N committee

had been tasked with re-evaluating

involved in the negotiations.

“(Khan) was already in good books

of the authorities as he used to avoid

attacking the security forces in his

native Razmak subdivision,” said one

of the members of the jirga, a traditional

tribal gathering.

The surrender follows a dip in

overall Taliban violence in Pakistan,

partly caused by an anti-Taliban military

offensive in North Waziristan

launched in June 2014.

whether issues such as national

security, foreign relations and law

enforcement were sufficiently protected

under the draft law, given the

changing security situation.

“The committee would invite

feedback and input from relevant

stakeholders, including the civil

society organisations such as Pildat,”

Nasir Jamal said.

However, the opposition lawmakers

are skeptical of the government’s

commitment. “I am skeptical because

17 times the government had promised

to bring the draft to the cabinet

meeting but they failed each time,”

said Farhatullah Babar who was head

of the Senate sub-committee which

finalised the draft of the RTI law.

“The minister for information had

promised to the information committee

of the Senate more than two years ago

that the bill will be presented for cabinet

approval. . However, it seems the government

is not interested and wants to

buy time and then pass the bill at the fade

end of current term so that the rulers do

not have to abide by the RTI.”

Babar said the minister does

not have power to bring the law in

Parliament. “I think someone else

is calling the shots as far as RTI law

is concerned,” he said. The RTI bill,

drafted in 2014 for replacing a weak

legislation, Freedom of Information

Ordinance 2002, has passed through

many eyes but stopped short of landing

into Parliament to pass into a law.

It was also sent to the international

RTI experts for review who declared

it the best legislation in the world if

adopted. Hence this draft law is an

“if” away from bringing Pakistan atop

the ranking list as its passage faces

awkward delays. The FOI Ordinance

2002, currently in practice, received

78th position in international ranking

of 2013.

Scores of militants surrender amid dip in attacks

But Saifullah Mahsud of the Islamabad-based

think-thank FATA Research

Center cautioned against overplaying

the significance of any surrender

or any hope that it might weaken the

Haqqani Network, which the US government

has said has ties to elements

in the Pakistani security forces.

“These groups have never been

fighting Pakistani forces anyway,” he

said. “I wouldn’t say the Haqqani’s position

is weakened.”

Medical care

A child suffering from pneumonia gets medical treatment in

Tharparkar, Sindh province, Pakistan.

Locomotive factory

in Risalpur being



ISLAMABAD: The process of

up-gradation and commercial

operations of Pakistan Locomotive

Factory, Risalpur, on joint-venture

basis with private sector’s participation

is under way, informed

Minister for Railways Khawaja

Saad Rafique to the Senate.

“Pakistan requires 500 locomotives

to meet the anticipated freight

and passenger traffic during the

next 10 years,” he said.

“With this in view, many companies

of the world are ready to enter

into cooperation with Pakistan for

the assembly and manufacturing

of locomotives,” he added. He said

the process of inducting new locomotives

had begun and an order for

55 high-horsepower engines has

been placed with General Electric.

Also present was the interior

minister who told the House that,

so far, over 182,000 manual arms

licenses had been computerised.

Video of woman being whipped

in Pakistan fake: Officials


ISLAMABAD:After the passage of

seven years, the federal government

of Pakistan has told the Supreme

Court that the incident of whipping

of a woman in Swat during Taliban’s

rule in 2009 had never taken place

and that the video footage was fake.

Former chief justice Iftikhar

Muhammad Chaudhry had taken suo

motu notice of a March 2009 video

footage of a 17-year-old girl being

flogged in public by the Taliban.

The woman’s flogging had been

filmed and had attracted nationwide

and international outrage after it was

put online. An eight-member bench of

the Supreme Court on April 6, 2009

directed the interior secretary, and the

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief secretary

and inspector general (IG) of police

to prepare a detailed report on the case.

Former SC Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain

had brought the incident to the

notice of the former CJP.

In his note to the CJP, Hussain had

Speaking before

the police, the two

refused that such

incident ever took

place. Statements

of elders were also

recorded and they

also expressed their


stated that in the video the victim was

crying and screaming continuously

while being lashed for leaving home

without a ‘Mehram’. The exact place,

where the incident had taken place,

could not be identified.

However, it appeared to be filmed

somewhere in Mingora or a village in

Swat, he added. The registrar said it was

a very cruel act that had violated fundamental

rights as well as Islamic norms

besides tarnishing the country’s name.

In its one-page report submitted

before the SC’s the three-judge bench

headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar

the Interior Ministry said after emergence

of the footage, the local police

registered a case on April 3, 2009 at

a police station in Kabal.

Later on, a special team was constituted

to probe into the matter. The

report said there were rumours that

the punishment of lashes was awarded

to the woman. The special team summoned

the woman and her husband

to police station and their statements

were recorded under section 164 Cr. PC.

However, the two refused that

such incident ever took place. Statements

of elders were also recorded

and they also expressed their ignorance,

the report said.

“In view of the circumstance, the

incident of whipping has not taken

place and it was a bogus video as per a

publication ‘Daily Pakistan’ newspaper

Peshawar dated March 29, 2010. .

After going through video, the

three-judge bunch observed that the

video, was bogus. The bench, later,

disposed of the suo motu case.


Rahul leads protest


Modi unveils action

plan for start-ups

Congress Party vice-president, Rahul Gandhi (second right) waves during a protest

march against power tariff hike in Mumbai, yesterday. Gandhi interacted with party

workers and students during his two-day visit to the city.

AAP decision on

contesting Goa

polls in March


Bloomberg & IANS

Rupee weakness

likely to continue

Modi yesterday

announced a three-year

income tax holiday for

start-ups and exemption

of capital gains tax

for venture capital

investments in them,

as part of a host of

incentives to promote

new enterprises in the


NEW DELHI: India pledged to ease regulations

to encourage entrepreneurs and

fledgling businesses as Prime Minister Narendra

Modi strives for the job opportunities

needed in a developing nation of 1.3 billion


Modi yesterday announced a threeyear

income tax holiday for start-ups and

exemption of capital gains tax for venture

capital investments in them, as part of a host

of incentives to promote new enterprises in

the country. He also announced self-certification

and three-year exemption from

inspections, an online portal and mobile app,

an 80 percent cut in the patent application fee,

a single-point hub for hand-holding, equal

opportunities in government procurement

and a Rs.100bn dedicated fund for start-ups.

The prime minister made these announcements

at an event to launch the “Start-Up

India Action Plan”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said

that a friendlier tax regime is among the

goals and the guiding principle is to reduce

obstacles from complex rules, at the government-organised

conference on startups

here yesterday.

“Our effort over the last few years has

been to restrict the role of the state essentially

as a facilitator,” Jaitley said at the event,

where billionaire Masayoshi Son, the founder

of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., and Uber

Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer

Travis Kalanick are on the guest list.

Asia’s No. 3 economy is in the midst of an

Internet startup boom that’s lured billions of

dollars and raised questions about whether

valuations are becoming stretched. Much of

the money is coming from foreign investors

such as Son. A lack of tax breaks has curbed

the involvement of local investors.

“About 70-80 percent of the funding

is coming from overseas,” said Harish

Visweswara, a partner at consultant Grant

12th century house

Thornton India LLP. The government needs

to reduce red tape and get rid of the numerous

permits and licenses required to run a

simple business, he said.

Son said in New Delhi that he’s pumped

almost $2bn into India in the past year, and

that he’d likely scale up rather than cut back

his investments if he were to reconsider his

plans. The country is at the beginning of a

“big bang” and the 21st century belongs to it,

he said, while adding challenges include slow

Internet connections and the need for more

wireless spectrum to be allotted to mobilephone


SoftBank has invested in e-commerce

provider Snapdeal.com and the ride-hailing

service Ola Cabs in India, as well as the

real-estate website Housing.com and hotelbooking

app Oyo Rooms. The company is

also part of a $20bn solar power venture.

The World Bank ranks India 130th out of

189 economies for ease of doing business, an

improvement from earlier years but far from

Modi’s goal of breaking into the world’s 50

top business-friendly destinations.

The nation is revising rules to make

company registrations easier, Corporate

Affairs Secretary Tapan Ray said at the

conference. Revenue Secretary Hasmukh

Adhia signaled the budget due on February

29 may tackle the difference between

the capital-gains tax treatment of unlisted

investments and the more favourable regime

for listed securities.

PANAJI: The AAP will take a call on

contesting the Goa assembly elections

in March, the party’s national

secretary Pankaj Gupta said yesterday.

Gupta, who is in Goa to

oversee a series of public meetings

and take stock of the Aam Aadmi

Party’s organisational functioning,

also lashed out at the performance

of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led

government in the state.

“If we contest, we will contest

to win. We are reaching out to people

through public meetings as well

as meeting prospective candidates

across Goa. We will be in a position

to take a call whether we will contest

the elections in March. After that it

will be too late,” Gupta told reporters

at the AAP’s state headquarters.

Assembly polls in Goa are scheduled

to be held later this year or

early in 2017.

Gupta and AAP spokesperson

Valmiki Naik lashed out at the performance

of the BJP-led government

in Goa, especially on the environment

front. “The government has

stopped connecting with the people.

The feedback we get from our

public meetings is that the government

is not in sync with the needs

of Goans,” Gupta said.

Gupta also said the odd-even

traffic regulation scheme initiated

in the national capital was serving

as an “ambassador” about the party’s

administrative prowess.

“With the implementation of

the scheme, we have been able to

convince people that we are able

to deliver effective governance,”

he said.

Rs650bn tax

refund this fiscal

NEW DELHI: The Central Board

of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has made

refunds of a record total of Rs.650bn

so far in the current financial year,

the government said.

“Between April (2015) and now,

CBDT has issued refunds to 1.98

crore assesses for an amount of

Rs650bn. This is a record in itself,”

Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia

said in a tweet.

“In the last month’s special drive,

182,8000 assesses whose refunds

were below Rs50,000 involving a

sum of Rs17.93bn have been issued,”

he said in another tweet


NEW DELHI: Global financial turmoil,

coupled with fears of further Chinese

yuan devaluation and slowdown

in domestic economy, are expected

to hasten depreciation of the Indian

rupee in the coming week, experts

said yesterday.

“The rupee value is expected to

depreciate further on the back of weak

global cues such as the ongoing financial

turmoil, slump in the commodity

prices and risk of further yuan devaluation,”

Anindya Banerjee, associate

vice president for currency derivatives

with Kotak Securities, said.

“The rupee might devalue further

towards the 68-level mark which

was last seen in 2013. At that point,

we can expect a heavy intervention

from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

to stabilise the rupee value,” Banerjee


According to Banerjee, the slowdown

in domestic reforms and growth

has dampened investors sentiments

and this will weigh heavy on the rupee.

“The weakness in the domestic

economy, coupled with fears of a further

yuan devaluation can hasten the

fall in rupee value,” Banerjee added.

“However, a proactive central

bank should limit the extreme volatility

in rupee value.”

Market observers have predicted

the rupee will hover around 66.50-

67.50 to a US dollar in the coming


“USD/INR level wise, we see a key

resistance at 67.70/75. A break will

certainly lead the pair towards 68 and

above level,” Hiren Sharma, senior

vice president, currency advisory at

Anand Rathi Financial Services, said.

“Too much of pessimism is prevailing

in the market. Anxiety about

crude and especially China markets


NEW DELHI: Unit 1 of the Kudankulam

nuclear power plant (KNPP) that

shut down in June last year for maintenance

is to restart functioning very

soon, while the second unit will be

operational by March this year, an

has drawn the markets to a state of


Another key area of concern for

rupee has been the increased outflows

of foreign funds from equity,

and even from the debt markets, cited


In contrast, an inflow was

expected to have taken place via central

and the state governments bonds,

as RBI had decided last year to raise

foreign investors’ exposure limits.

The RBI’s decision was expected

to usher in around $2.5bn by this fiscal


“The anticipated foreign capital

influx into the central and the state

governments bonds has not taken

place, instead we are seeing an outflow

from the bonds markets,” Banerjee


On a weekly basis, the rupee

weakened by 96 paise to 67.60 on

Friday to a US dollar from its previous

close of 66.64 to a greenback

(January 8).

The National Securities Depository

Limited (NSDL) figures showed

that the FPIs were net sellers during

the week ended January 15 2016.

They divested Rs.34.59bn or $368.3m

in the equity and debt markets from

January 11-15.

Similarly, the data with stock

exchanges showed that the FPIs sold

stocks worth Rs.43bn in the week

under review.

In addition, a major trigger in the

form of further crude oil price slide

can weaken the rupee further. The

slide will erode investors’ confidence

— leading to a panic sell-off in equity

and debt markets.

Another crude oil price plunge

is expected from Monday, as sanctions

over Iran would be lifted. This

is expected to increase the oil supply

manifold in the international

markets, thereby taking the prices


official release said yesterday.

Inaugurating northern India’s

first permanent exhibition on nuclear

power here, Minister of State for

Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said

that “unit 1 of the Kudankulam nuclear

power plant was shut down due to

natural processes that are followed

and it will start functioning very

soon”, according to a statement by

Kashmiri people look at a 12th century house in downtown area of Srinagar, the summer capital of

Kashmir, yesterday. An ancient house made up of bricks and stones believed to be 800-years-old was

discovered in Srinagar when a part of a road caved in, a prominent Kashmir historian, Fida Mohammad

Hasnain, told local newspapers.

Buddhadeb’s clear message

to Congress to align with Left



out a categoric message to the Congress

to team up with the Left Front for

the upcoming West Bengal assembly

polls, former chief minister Buddhadeb

Bhattacharjee yesterday asked the

Congress to spell out its stand on the


Bhattacharjee, a senior leader of Left

Front spearhead Communist Party of

India-Marxist, called upon other Leftists

and political parties as also all sections

the department of atomic energy.

The minister also said that Unit 2 of

the Kudankulam nuclear power plant

will be operational by March this year,

it added.

The first 1,000 MW unit at Kudankulam

in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelvelli district,

around 650 km from Chennai, was

shut down in June 2015 for 60 days

for refuelling and maintenance work.

of the people to join hands and remove

the Trinamool Congress from power.

“We Leftists have come together.

We are urging other Leftists to come

with us to save the state from doom.

We are appealing to all the parties. We

are asking the Congress, on which side

of the fence are you? On which side are

you in this fight?” Bhattacharjee said.

“We are asking all sections of the

people to join hands. In the coming

struggle, we will show that we are

not alone, we will remove this enemy

from power,” he said, while flagging

off a padyatra (march) from this rural

hamlet in Hooghly district to Salboni

The unit has not restarted till date

as testing of various systems is on.

Only after successful completion of

the tests, will the unit restart power


Officials had earlier said the

unit would restart sometime in


The second 1,000 MW unit at

Kudankulam is expected to go critical,

in West Midnapore. The padyatra was

organised by the Leftists under the

banner of the Bengal Platform of Mass


With assembly elections around

three months away, the CPI-M has

been repeatedly sending out feelers

to the Congress to form an alliance

to take on the Trinamool.

Earlier, CPI-M state secretary Surjya

Kanta Mishra and party politburo

member Mohammed Salim had asked

the Congress to take a decision on the

issue. A majority of Congress leaders

have also expressed a desire to tie up

with the Left Front.

Kudankulam unit 1 to restart soon and unit 2 by March

or start the fission process, for the first

time sometime this year.

India will be signing the remaining

agreements with Russia for the third

and fourth units at Kudankulam, estimated

to cost around Rs400bn. The

site work is expected to begin for these

two units sometime this year.

Negotiations are on with Russia

for fifth and sixth units.



US tells India

and Pakistan to

continue talks

Washington wants

New Delhi and

Islamabad to

continue dialogue

and look for ways to

cooperate against

the common threat

of terrorism, US

State Department

Spokesperson John

Kirby said


WASHINGTON: Describing Prime

Minister Narendra Modi’s recent

conversation with his Pakistani counterpart

Nawaz Sharif as a “welcome

sign” the US says it wants the two

countries to continue to have a dialogue

to fight terrorism.

“We want them to continue to

have a dialogue and to continue to

look for ways to cooperate against

a common threat,” US State Department

Spokesperson John Kirby told

reporters in response to a question.

The conversation between the two

Prime Ministers was a “welcome sign”,

he said, with both condemning the

terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force

base at Pathankot and expressing

Jamia Milia

not a minority




NEW DELHI: The Attorney-General

has told the government that

Delhi-based Jamia Milia Islamia

is not a minority institution as

it was created by an Act of Parliament,

days after he told the

Supreme Court that the legislature

never intended the Aligarh

Muslim University to be a minority


In his opinion to the HRD Ministry,

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi

is understood to have also quoted

a 1967 Supreme Court judgement

which had said that AMU is technically

not a minority institution

and the same principle applied to

Jamia Milia Islamia.

The HRD Ministry had

approached the Law Ministry seeking

an opinion on the issue. The Law

Ministry had then asked the AG for

his legal opinion.

The National Commission for

Minority Educational Institutions

had declared Jamia as a religious

minority institution in 2011.

Based on the order, Jamia had

discontinued reservation for SC/ST

and OBC students and set aside half

its seats in each course for Muslim


Sources in the Law Ministry

quoted Section 7 of the Jamia Milia

Islamia Act of 1988 which states

that “the University shall be open to

persons of either sex and of whatever

race, creed, caste or class, and

it shall not be lawful for the University

to adopt or impose on any

person any test whatsoever of religious

belief or profession in order to

entitle him to be admitted therein

as a teacher or student...”

Rohatgi had told the apex court

earlier this week that in the opinion

of the government, the AMU is

not a minority institution. He said

as the executive government at the

Centre, it can’t be seen as setting

up a minority institution in a secular


their shared commitment to fighting


“That was not an insignificant

discussion that they had, nor was it

an insignificant commitment that

they made, and it’s exactly the kind

of commitment that we want them to

continue to make,” Kirby said.

The spokesperson said, “It should

come as a shock to no one that terrorist

groups will try to undermine those

sorts of efforts by conducting spectacular

attacks - to do exactly that.”

The terrorists, he said, wanted

to sow fear, and to hopefully sow

doubt in the minds of national leaders

towards a level of cooperation that

can have a practical effect.”

“And obviously, we don’t want

to see that happen,” Kirby said. The

US was “encouraged by the dialogue

that has recently taken place between

India and Pakistan, and we’d like to

see that continue.”

Describing India-US relationship

as an important one, the spokesperson

said, Washington was committed to

it and wanted to continue to improve

its excellent ties with New Delhi as

there was still much to be done.

“There’s still much to be done,

and again, this is an important relationship

that we want to continue to

improve,” Kirby said.

“And we have excellent relations

with the Government of India,” he said.

“We want to make them even better.”

“We know how important this

relationship is, and I can assure you

and the Indian people that the United

States remains committed to it,” he



PATNA: The World Bank may help

Bihar in imparting computer education

and communication skills to millions

of youths, state officials said yesterday.

“World Bank country director Onno

Ruhl during his meeting with Nitish

Kumar on Friday evening assured all

possible assistance for computer education

and communication skills to

youths,” an official in the chief minister’s

office said here.

Ruhl was impressed with the chief

minister’s plan of basic computer and

communication skills. “Onno Ruhl

praised Nitish Kumar’s scheme for

youths and other initiatives of development,”

the official added.

To impart computer education

and communication skills to youths

Buffalo fight

President launches polio drive

President Pranab Mukherjee administers polio drops to a young child as he launches the Nationwide

Polio Programme at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, yesterday.

Home minister holds talks with

13 state security agencies


NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister

Rajnath Singh yesterday met representatives

of 13 security agencies of

different states here and discussed

alarming influence of Islamic State

(IS) over youths through social media.

He also reviewed security aspects

during the day-long meeting with the

officers from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh,

Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra

Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Tamil

Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka,

Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The officers belong to intelligence

department and law enforcement

agencies discussed issues relating to

Daesh, also known as ISIL, ISIS or IS,

a home ministry statement said, adding

that the meeting was also attended

by senior officials of the union home


The issues discussed included

imisuse of social media, and the

sources of impetus that attract persons,

especially youths, to IS, the

statement said.

The growth of IS’ influence in

India’s neighbourhood, the best possible

law enforcement response, the

need for appropriate welfare schemes

for minorities, social media strategies

to be followed and capacity building of

Spectators watch a traditional buffalo fight at Ahatguri, some 80km from Guwahati, the capital of

Assam, yesterday. This age-old buffalo fight is organised on the occasion of the harvest festival

‘Bhogali Bihu’ in the state.

state police organisations, especially

in the area of information technology

were the additional issued discussed

in the meeting, the statement said.

In his concluding remarks,

Rajnath Singh said: “India’s traditions

and family values will triumph

over even this evil, and that the traction

that Daesh has got in India is

extremely limited.”

He, however, noted that there was

a need to keep up vigil on all fronts

and not let down their guard in any

manner but noted that a large number

of people and, in fact, most Muslim

organisations in India had come out

against both Daesh and other forms

of terrorism.

World Bank to help Bihar in computer literacy

is part of Nitish Kumar’s seven resolves

to ensure people of Bihar have basic

amenities which are part of the common

minimum programme of the

Grand Alliance of Janata Dal-United,

Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congressled


In fact, Nitish Kumar made the

promise on the issues during campaigning

for the 2015 Bihar assembly

elections. The World Bank will also

soon release the money approved

for improving the quality of education

in Bihar.

The chief minister also sought the

World Bank’s help to fulfil another

resolve of connecting all villages having

a population of 250 or more with

roads, officials said.

Besides, the World Bank has also

assured the Bihar government of providing

assistance for its ambitious

project of constructing panchayat

sarkar bhavans in over 8,400 panchayats

across the state.

Ruhl has informed that the World

Bank would sign a memorandum of

understanding for the Kosi Basin Development

Project later this month.

The World Bank had approved the

project on December 8, 2015. The cost

would be $376.5m, of which the bank

would provide $250m on credit.

Meanwhile, Railways Minister

Suresh Prabhu is currently on a threeday

tour of the US capital on the request

of the World Bank, the railways ministry

said in a statement.

He is to deliver an address at the

plenary session on the World Bank

Conference on “Transport and Cities

- Key Drivers for Meeting Climate

Goals”, the statement said.

Apart from this, his tour involves

a number of seminars, conference,

meetings and events, it added.

At an event on Thursday evening

at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment

for International Peace, Prabhu said

the Indian government wants to make

infrastructure growth a priority, where

transportation would be the key element

of development and growth of

the country.

“A proper sustainable transportation

sector has potential to play a

key role in India’s economic growth

including removal of social disparity,

help reduce global greenhouse gas

emission,” he said.

“I do not think India can achieve

higher economic growth unless we

put in place a strong transportation

sector,” he added.

Prabhu, who is scheduled to meet

US Deputy Transportation Secretary

Victor Mendez, during his current visit,

said India wants to involve the US in its

modernisation of the railways.


AGARTALA: With a fresh outbreak

of bird flu being reported in Tripura,

the mass culling of more than 8,000

chicken and ducks began yesterday

in the western part of the state, officials

said here.

“We have started culling of chickens,

ducks and other poultry birds

today (Saturday) at the governmentrun

animal farm at Gandhigram in

western Tripura. We have told officials

to complete the culling drive at

the R K Nagar government animal

farm at the earliest,” Tripura government’s

animal resource development

department (ARDD) director Manoranjan

Sarkar said. He said: “After the

death of some chicken, ducks and

birds we have sent samples to various

local and outside laboratories.

“The National Institute of High

Security Animal Disease Laboratory

Cold wave in

Valley and chill

rises in Jammu


SRINAGAR: Despite a feeble morning

sun struggling to register its

presence, the cold wave continued in

the Kashmir Valley yesterday while

people in the Jammu region piled

on woollens to ward off the chill.

“The minimum temperature was

minus 4 degrees Celsius in Srinagar

city. It was minus 5.8 in Pahalgam

and minus 6 in Gulmarg today (Saturday).

Leh town recorded minus

14.5 while Kargil recorded minus

13.8 today,” a meteorological department

official said.

“In the Jammu region, the lowest

night temperature was 9. It was

6.2 in Katra, 4.5 in Batote, 6.5 in

Bannihal, 0.3 in Buaderwah and

3.8 in Udhampur.

“Dry weather is likely to continue

in the state today,” the official

added. After many days, people in

Jammu city tried to cover themselves

with more woollens and

tweed coats to ward off the sudden

chill that hit the city.

“After the festival of Lohri we

normally say goodbye to cold in

Jammu, but due to morning fog for

last two days and cloudy weather

today, the chill factor in Jammu has

increased,” the weather office said.

The official, however, added

there is nothing abnormal about

Jammu sometimes getting colder

after Friday.

Court seeks all

documents in

bribery case

KOCHI: A court hearing the now

infamous ‘bar scam’ case yesterday

asked the vigilance probe team to

hand over all the case documents

to it.

Giving the direction to the

vigilance team, the Thiruvananthapuram

Vigilance Court posted

the case for February 16.

The latest direction came after the

vigilance probe team led by R Sukehsan

submitted a 148-page report

that literally gives a clean chit to

former finance minister K M Mani,

who resigned last year after the high

court upheld this vigilance court’s

direction to the probe team for a further

probe in the bar bribery scam.

In the report that Sukeshan submitted,

the highlight is that they

could not establish any evidence

to prove that a bribe was asked or


Mani had to quit on November

10 last year following certain

adverse remarks made by the high

court against him, while giving the

nod for a further probe, as asked

by the vigilance court.

The case surfaced in October

2014 when whistle-blower bar

owner Biju Ramesh alleged that

Mani was given Rs.10m as bribe

by Kerala’s bar owners to ensure

reopening of the 418 closed bars

in the state.

Over 8,000 birds

culled in Tripura

in Bhopal has confirmed the samples

from the government farm are positive

for H5 strain of Avian Influenza.”

“It has been decided to immediately

commence the culling of birds

and destruction of eggs and feed material

among other things so as to control

further spread of the disease without

loss of time,” said Sarkar, who

is personally supervising the culling

of birds.

It has also been decided that all

the ducks and poultry birds would be

culled within a radius of one km of

the focus of infection, including the

neighbouring villages.

According to the official, in addition

to the culling, surveillance would

be carried out over a further radius

up to 10 km to monitor further spread

of infection, if any.

The northeastern state of Tripura

was first affected by avian influenza

in April and May 2008, forcing the

authorities to cull several lakh poultry



Mexican president’s ex-ally arrested in Spain


MADRID: Spanish police arrested

a former ally of Mexican President

Enrique Pena Nieto in a moneylaundering

probe, potentially raising

awkward questions for his ruling Institutional

Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Humberto Moreira, who was the

PRI chairman in 2011 before he stood

down after a debt scandal was uncovered

in Coahuila, the northern state

he had governed. He was arrested at

Madrid’s international airport, the

Spanish police said.

His detention was part of an

Moreira’s detention

was part of an

operation against

money laundering

and other crimes,

an official said

operation against money laundering

and other crimes, according to a

Spanish court official who spoke on

condition of anonymity.

In an apparent reference to Pena

Nieto’s tweet to announce the capture

of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman

a week ago, Spanish police tweeted

news of Moreira’s detention with the

hashtag “mission accomplished”, echoing

the president’s words.

Details of the Spanish probe were

however, not immediately available,

but it raised hopes among the opposition

politicians that Moreira might

face prosecution over the debt debacle.

“Nobody in the Coahuila government

has explained what happened

to that money,” said Senator Ernesto

Cordero of the opposition National

Action Party (PAN), an ex-finance

minister who led initial investigations

into the debt.

Moreira is not wanted by the law

in Mexico. Mexico’s Foreign Ministry

said it would provide him with consular

assistance should he need it,

as it does for all citizens.

In 2014, Moreira’s former finance

secretary in Coahuila pled guilty to federal

money laundering charges in Texas.

The man who completed his term as

governor is wanted in the United States

on suspicion of embezzling.

Moreira was in office from 2005

to early 2011, a period in which Coahuila’s

debts more than tripled to what

was then around $3 billion.

The state congress contracted

some of the loans with falsified documents,

Cordero said.

Moreira maintained he had been

misled by officials and denied any

wrongdoing. Guillermo Anaya, a senior

PAN politician in Coahuila, said

there was concern the loans could have

helped the PRI fund state and even

national election campaigns.

Elected president in July 2012,

Pena Nieto’s campaign to be the PRI

candidate gained momentum under

Moreira. Pena Nieto has faced criticism

for failing to go after PRI officials

accused of graft, including three of its

former governors indicted in the United

States. The PRI said it had “little information”

on the matter, but added:

“The institutions are not responsible

for the acts of those who form

part of them.”

Macedonia opposition threatens to boycott polls


SKOPJE: A European Union-brokered

deal to end a political crisis in Macedonia

hung in the balance yesterday

after opponents of conservative Prime

Minister Nikola Gruevski threatened to

boycott an early parliamentary election

in April. All sides had agreed last

year to an April 24 election, two years

ahead of schedule, under EU mediation

to end months of bitter standoff over

allegations against Gruevski’s government

of illegal phone-tapping and

widespread abuse of office.

But opposition Social Democrat

leader Zoran Zaev said overnight that

not all conditions had been met for a

free and fair election in the tiny ex-

Yugoslav republic, citing a lack of media

reform to reduce government influence

and failure to conduct a thorough

review of the electoral roll.

“We won’t accept elections without

timely regulation of the media or

timely clearing of the voter list,” Zaev

told reporters after emerging from latenight

talks with Gruevski and the EU’s

enlargement commissioner, Johannes

Hahn, who brokered the original deal.

“If there are elections on April

24 we will not take part,” Zaev said.

“We will continue to fight for free,

fair and democratic conditions in

which to hold elections.”

Almost a decade in power,

Gruevski’s government was bombarded

Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski talks to the media in front of the residence of EU ambassador in Skopje, yesterday.

last year by allegations of illegal surveillance,

meddling in the media and

judiciary, rigging elections and appointing

party faithful to public sector jobs.

The accusations stemmed from a

slew of phone-taps released by Zaev,

who said the government had conducted

the surveillance. Gruevski

denied this and dismissed the accusations

as a plot to bring him down.

He submitted his resignation to

parliament on Friday, in line with the

deal, but said it would become effective

100 days before the election, which

has yet to be officially called.

Gruevski accused Zaev of trying

to take the country even deeper into

crisis”. “He just wanted to postpone elections,

without any serious arguments.”

Gruevski’s commands enough votes

in parliament to endorse his resignation

and force an election regardless

of Zaev’s threats to boycott.

Hahn said he still expected all sides

to stick to the election agreement,

promising the poll would be closely

monitored by European observers.

He warned of the need for an effective

government capable of confronting

terms of the economy challanges and

a large wave of migrants crossing its

territory from Greece.



Merkel to host

Turkey’s PM for

talks next Friday

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel

(pictured above) will host Turkish

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for

talks next Friday, her spokesman

said, with discussions to centre on

the suicide attack in Istanbul that

claimed 10 German lives.

Tuesday’s “attack in Istanbul

will play a central role” in the talks,

said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for


The two leaders will also discuss

issues on both countries’ priority

lists, including their fight against terrorism

and a record refugee influx

to Europe.

The talks are part of a series

of so-called government consultations

that Germany has

with only a handful of countries,

including India and China,

Seibert further said .

Friday’s meeting would be the

first with Turkey’s cabinet and will

include interior, foreign and defence

ministers from both sides.

Turkey has a special relationship

with Germany as the biggest

EU economy is not only home to

around three million people with

Turkish roots, but also its biggest

trading partner.

Turkey, which shares a border

with war-torn Syria, is also a key

player in the current record migrant

influx to Europe, with EU countries

needing Ankara’s help to stem

the flow.

It has also stepped up its involvement

in the US-led coalition against

the Islamic State group, through

air strikes as well as the hosting

of war planes.

EU regulators to meet

on EU-US data transfers


BRUSSELS: European Union privacy

regulators aim to agree next month

on whether and how data transfers

to the United States should continue

as the European Commission weighs

Washington’s latest proposals on a

new EU-US data-transfer pact.

European data protection authorities

will gather in Brussels on February

2 to find a common position on which

legal channels companies can use to

shuffle personal data across the Atlantic

after the simplest system, known

as Safe Harbour, was quashed by the

top EU court due to concerns about

the US snooping.

The 15-year-old Safe Harbour

framework used by over 4,000 firms to

transfer Europeans’ data to the United

States was declared invalid by the

European Court of Justice (ECJ) on

October 6 because the court found

US national security requirements

trumped privacy safeguards. This

meant that the data were not adequately


Under EU data protection law,

companies cannot transfer EU citizens’

personal data to countries

outside the EU deemed to have insufficient

privacy safeguards, of which

the United States is one.

Revelations of mass US surveillance

programmes where American

authorities collected private information

directly from big tech firms

like Apple, Facebook and Google riled

Europe two years ago, and set the

stage for the ECJ ruling.

As Washington and Brussels

stepped up discussions on a new

pact, EU data protection authorities

gave businesses a three-month

grace period in which they could

set up alternative legal systems to

transfer data across the Atlantic.

These would cover binding corporate

rules within multinationals,

model clauses between companies or

requests to people for their consent.

EU data protection authorities also

urged the United States and EU to agree

a new data transfer framework in the

same period, failing which they could

start taking enforcement action against

companies if they decided that alternatives

such as model clauses offered no

greater protection against US snooping

than the old Safe Harbour did.

The United States submitted

a package of proposals on a new

Safe Harbour deal this week. These

included a letter from US Secretary of

Commerce Penny Pritzker explaining

US commitments on the oversight

of a possible new framework by both

the Department of Commerce and

the US Federal Trade Commission,

according to a person familiar with

the discussions.

If acceptable to the EU, a new

framework could be submitted for

approval by all 28 EU commissioners

on February 2 to coincide with the

regulators’ meeting, the person said.

However, further details may need

to be ironed out after that.

EU regulators have been analysing

the legality of transfer mechanisms

such as binding corporate rules and

should reach a common position on

February 2, said a spokeswoman for

the French data protection authority,

which will chair the meeting.

“It is evident that we will sanction

any transfers of personal data which

are solely based on the old Safe Harbour

decision,” said Johannes Caspar,

head of the Hamburg data protection

authority in Germany which

polices Google and Facebook. He

said a new Safe Harbour framework

would have to include a number of

legal safeguards.

Pressure on Ukraine to boost fight against corruption


KIEV: Nine European governments

including Germany, the UK and Poland

pressed Ukraine to step up the fight

against corruption to meet the terms of

its peace accord with Russian- backed

separatists, Danish Foreign Minister

Kristian Jensen said.

“Ukraine has shown a lot of will to

Suspected gas

blast kills five

people in Italy


ROME: An explosion probably

caused by a gas leak killed five people

in a town in Italy early yesterday,

flattening a two-storey building and

damaging several others.

Five bodies were recovered from

the rubble of the residential building

in Arnasco, a town in the Liguria

region, and a woman was taken to

hospital in a serious condition, fire

service spokesman Luca Cari said.

“It was a large blast because it

brought down an entire two-storey

building,” Cari said. “We haven’t yet

completed the investigation into the

cause of the explosion, but it’s compatible

with a gas leak, and that’s

the only hypothesis we have.” .”

All of the building’s residents

were accounted for but firefighters

continued to dig the debris in case

any of them had visitors. Inspections

were also being carried out

at nearby buildings damaged by

the blast, Cari said.

do reforms, but is still lagging behind

on some of the few issues that are really

necessary,” Jensen said in a telephone

interview. “If they don’t live up to their

part, I am sure that Moscow will take

that as a challenge to step out.”

Denmark pushed for a ninenation

draft that’s been prepared for

discussion at a meeting of European

Union foreign ministers in Brussels.

Ukraine’s government and lawmakers

“urgently” need to step up efforts

to carry out “effective reforms,” while

the EU should respond to Ukrainian

demands for assistance, according to

a document.

Ukraine faces the “huge” issue of

passing a constitutional amendment

to allow special status to breakaway

eastern regions, Jensen said.

The conflict in Ukraine’s easternmost

regions has eased since a second

peace agreement was sealed last February

in Minsk, Belarus’s capital, in

In support of womenkind

a bid to ease reignited Cold War tensions.

While the end-2015 deadline

to fulfill the deal was missed, world

leaders say the pact is the only way

to resolve almost two years of unrest

that the United Nations estimates has

killed more than 9,000 people.

EU governments need to discuss

whether the proposed Nord Stream

2 project, a pipeline from Russia to

Germany that would bypass Ukraine,

should proceed, Jensen said.

People take part in a solidarity demonstration against the violence against women in Berlin, Germany,




Germany for EU

extra levy to meet

refugee costs

The proposal moved

by Finance Minister

Wolfgang Schaeuble

has drawn criticism

from his own party


BERLIN: German Finance Minister

Wolfgang Schaeuble has proposed

the introduction of a special tax on

gasoline in European Union member

states to finance refugee-related

costs such as strengthening the continent’s

joint external borders.

Schaeuble’s proposal drew criticism

from members of his own

conservative party, the Christian

Democratic Union (CDU), as well as

from the Social Democrats (SPD),

junior partner in Chancellor Angela

Merkel’s ruling coalition.

“I’ve said if the funds in the

national budgets and the European

budget are not sufficient, then let us

agree for instance on collecting a levy

on every litre of gasoline at a specific

amount,” Schaeuble told Sueddeutsche

Zeitung newspaper in an interview.

“We have to secure Schengen’s

external borders now. The solution

of these problems must not founder

due to a limitation of funds,” the veteran

politician said.

Asked if all EU countries should

increase their payments to Brussels

to finance joint refugee-related costs,

Schaeuble said: “If someone is not willing

to pay, I’m nonetheless prepared

to do it. Then we’ll build a coalition of

the willing.” Schaeuble gave no details

on how high the extra levy on gasoline

should be and whether Brussels

or the EU member states would be in

charge of collecting it.

“I’m strictly against any tax

increase in light of the good budgetary

situation,” said CDU deputy

Julia Kloeckner who wants to win a

regional election in the western state

of Rhineland-Palatinate in March.

Germany achieved a larger-thanexpected

budget surplus of €12.1bn

in 2015 and will use the windfall to

pay for accommodating and integrating


“We Social Democrats want to hold

society together instead of dividing it

with a new refugee toll à la Schaeuble,”

SPD deputy Ralf Stegner said.

Beginning of tulip season

People from Amstelveen pick tulips placed in front of the Royal Palace at the Dam Square to celebrate the beginning of the tulip season

in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, yesterday.

Probe launched into tragic France drug trial


RENNES: French authorities launched

three investigations yesterday at a

research laboratory in Rennes after

a drug trial conducted there left one

person brain-dead and three others

facing potentially irreversible brain


Judicial police late Friday carried

out the first searches at the Biotrial

lab which had performed the trial on

behalf of Portuguese pharmaceutical

company Bial.

They were joined yesterday by representatives

of France’s social affairs

inspectorate general (IGAS) and the

national drug safety agency (ANSM).

The probes are seeking to determine

if the tragedy was caused by an

Fun on the snow

error in the trial’s procedures or in the

substance tested, a new drug meant to

treat mood disorders such as anxiety.

A total of 90 volunteers—healthy

men aged between 28 and 48 —were

given the experimental drug in the

Phase I trial. Six of them were taken

to hospital last week.

Pierre-Gilles Edan, head of the neurology

department at the hospital in

Rennes where the volunteers were

taken, said that aside from the man

who was clinically dead, three others

were suffering a “handicap that could

be irreversible” and another also had

neurological problems.

The sixth volunteer had no symptoms

but was being monitored. The

head of Biotrial said yesterday the lab

was cooperating with the investigators.

“Our thoughts remain with the victims

and their families but our energy

this morning is entirely committed to

assisting the investigators and to fully

cooperating in the investigations under

way,” Francois Peaucelle told journalists

at a press briefing at the site.

The investigators and inspectors

“are trying to understand.... what could

have happened and how it could have

resulted in such an a tragic situation,”

he said, adding that there was no news

of any change to the condition of the

hospitalised volunteers.

Representatives from Bial were also

on site and taking part in the probes

with “total transparency”, according

to Peaucelle.

The Portuguese firm had issued a

statement on Friday insisting it had followed

international best practice” in

developing the drug and said it would

cooperate with the investigation to

“determine in a rigorous and exhaustive

Snow kiters at the snowy Wasserkuppe mountain near Fulda, western Germany, yesterday,

Five held for exploiting farm workers


MADRID: Spanish police yesterday

said five Romanians have been arrested

suspected of exploiting their fellow

countrymen after luring them to work

in the fruit and vegetable harvest in

Spain and then not paying them for

their labour.

The arrests were made in Seville

in southern Spain after a complaint

was lodged in the northern Basque

Country. A man of Romanian nationality

said he was lured by a promise

of a dignified salary and a decent job

in the (Spanish) agriculture sector.

Once he and others had arrived

in Spain from Romania, they were

“squeezed into often abandoned

houses, in deplorable sanitary conditions”

where they were “threatened

and which they could not leave except

to work in the fields”, police said.

“The workers did not receive any

kind of financial remuneration for their

work,” added police, accusing those

behind the exploitation of hoarding

the workers’ salaries.

Aside from arresting five people,

police conducted searches and identified

the administrator of a company

tasked with negotiating work contracts

with farmers —which were often

merely verbal agreements.

manner” what had happened.

France’s national drug safety body

confirmed it was the worst-ever incident

to have taken place in a drugs

trial in the country.

Each year thousands of volunteers

participate in clinical drugs trials and

experts point out that tragic results

are rare. But the incident in Rennes

has raised concerns about such


A university teacher in Rennes who

has participated in such trials told journalists

he would not do it again.

“I will not do it anymore and I’m

going to advice against it,” said the

33-year-old, who requested anonymity.

He admitted to being attracted

by the “easy money” participants

received and that he had taken part

in about 15 trials at the Biotrial lab

since 2005.

EU opens probe

into Antwerp

port container



BRUSSELS: The European Commission

said it had opened an in-depth

investigation into alleged state aid

to two container terminal operators

in Europe’s second busiest port,

Antwerp in Belgium.

The Commission said concession

agreements for PSA Antwerp NV

and Antwerp Gateway NV contained

a requirement for the handling of

a minimum tonnage.

The two did not reach this

between 2009 and 2012, meaning

they would have to pay compensation

to the port authority.

However, the Antwerp Port

Authority decided in 2013 to reduce

the minimum tonnage retroactively,

reducing the compensation to 80

percent. The Commission said it

received a complaint from a competitor

and opened investigation to

determine whether a private investor

would have acted in the same

way to reduce the compensation due.

If not carried out on market

terms, it would constitute state

aid. The Commission would have

to determine whether to authorise

such aid under rules allowing

member states to grant state aid

for certain public interest goods.

The concession contracts were

concluded in 2004 for a period of 42

years related to the transhipment of

containers in the Deurganck dock.

Spacewalk suspended after

leak in Briton’s helmet



short a spacewalk at the International

Space Station after one of the astronauts

reported a leak in his spacesuit

helmet, the US space agency said.

Tim Peake, who on the mission

became the first astronaut from Britain

to walk in space, and US astronaut Tim

Kopra had finished the primary goal

of their outing when Kopra reported

a water ball had formed in his helmet.

The astronauts were not in any

danger, but NASA curtailed the spacewalk

as a precaution, flight director

Royce Renfrew said during an interview


Peake, 43, a former army major,

blasted off to the station as part of a

six-month mission for the European

Space Agency in December, becoming

the first Briton in space since Helen

Sharman travelled on a Soviet spacecraft

for eight days in 1991, and the

first to do so under a British flag.

His mission has attracted widespread

attention in Britain, with news

channels beaming live coverage of

the spacewalk.

“We’re all watching, no pressure!

Wishing you a happy stroll outdoors

in the universe,” British musician Paul

McCartney said on Twitter.

About three hours into Friday’s

spacewalk, Kopra, 52, reported that

Time to say goodbye

his helmet pad was damp and a ball

of water had collected in his helmet,

prompting NASA to end the mission.

The leak increased as Kopra and

Peake returned to the airlock.

“It was quite noticeable,” Kopra

later told ground controllers.

NASA tightened its flight rules after

a spacesuit worn by Italian astronaut

Luca Parmitano leaked during a

spacewalk in July 2013, nearly causing

him to drown.

NASA eventually tracked down

the source of the problem and outfitted

the helmets with absorption pads

and breathing snorkels as additional

safety measures.

Chief astronaut Chris Cassidy,

who was Parmitano’s partner during

the aborted 2013 spacewalk, said

the cold temperature of the water

indicated a leak from somewhere in

the spacesuit’s backpack, which contains

a cooling system.

In an interview on NASA TV, Cassidy

called it “a significant concern.”

Kopra and Peake had replaced

a failed voltage regulator in the station’s

power system shortly after

leaving the station’s airlock at around

8 a.m.

They were scheduled to spend

more than six hours outside the station,

a $100bn research laboratory

that flies about 250 miles above

Earth, on other maintenance chores.

That work will be rescheduled,

NASA said.

Leader of Union Party Josep Anton Duran i Lleida (centre) waves

after announcing his resignation as president during the National

Council of Union in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday.



Hillary embarks

on ad blitz as

primaries kick off

The first quarter

is a crucial period

in the presidential

nominating contest.

It kicks off with

the Iowa caucus

on February 1,

followed by the New

Hampshire primary

on February 9 and a

series of other early

votes through March,

including ‘Super

Tuesday’ on March 1

when 11 states hold

nominating contests


NEW YORK: Democrat Hillary Clinton

plans to pour half of her presidential

campaign’s budget into advertising

in the first three months of this year

as she seeks to fend off an increasingly

tough challenge from chief rival

Bernie Sanders, according to a summary

of her spending plans reviewed

by Reuters.

The first-quarter advertising blitz

would represent almost a doubling

of the proportion of money that the

campaign devoted to such spending,

on average, during 2015.

The report, prepared by her team’s

finance committee, aims to paint a picture

of a fiscally prudent campaign

operation that has been spending heavily

on digital tools and organising last

year and is now ready to ramp up ad

spending as the 2016 White House race

moves into a critical new phase.

“The significant early resources

mobilized by our Finance Committee

in 2015 helped us make smart early

investments in key areas — and will

enable us to continue with strategic

allocations in Q1 of 2016,” the report


The first quarter is a crucial period

in the presidential nominating contest.

It kicks off with the Iowa caucus

on February 1, followed by the New

Hampshire primary on February 9 and

a series of other early votes through

March, including “Super Tuesday”

on March 1 when 11 states hold nominating


Many of the contests during March,

the report notes, “are in big states

with expensive media markets.” In

2015, the campaign devoted nearly 10

percent of its spending to technology

and digital tools, about a fifth of the

budget on list-building and almost

another quarter on state organizing,

according to the year-end document.

List-building refers to amassing

names of potential voters who a

campaign wants to woo. The Clinton

campaign declined to comment

on the spending report.

The increased focus on advertising

spending comes as the campaign

expects to shrink the ratios of spending

in other areas, especially those

that appear related to infrastructure.

State organising, for example, is

projected to go from 23 percent in

2015 to 18 percent in the first quarter

of this year.

List-building is expected to go

from 21 percent in 2015 to 14 percent

in the first three months of 2016.

The report comes two weeks

before the Iowa contest, with Clinton

locked in a tightening race with

Sanders, the fiery U.S. senator from

Vermont who has been drawing big

crowds in the early-voting states with

his calls to crack down on Wall Street.

The emphasis on fiscal prudence

is part of a broader effort by

the Clinton campaign to reassure supporters

that it has learned from her

2008 campaign, which was plagued

by missteps, including a failure to

match the organisational and digital

prowess of Barack Obama, who

ultimately won the Democratic nomination

— and the general election.

Clinton’s campaign raised more

than $112m last year for the primary

fight, according to a previously

released statement from January 1.

That includes $37m raised in the fourth

quarter. The campaign had nearly

$38m in cash on hand headed into

this year, according to the statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (centre) arrives at the National Assembly in Caracas early yesterday to present his ‘Report and Accounts’

or annual budget to Parliament.

Maduro admits economic ‘catastrophe’


CARACAS: Venezuelan President

Nicolas Maduro admitted before a

hostile legislature early yesterday

that the oil-rich nation is mired in a

“catastrophic” economic crisis, hours

after decreeing a two-month state of


Maduro’s first state of the nation

address before the newly opposition-held

National Assembly, which

is locked in a bitter power struggle

with his administration, came as Venezuela’s

central bank released its first

economic growth and inflation statistics

in more than a year.

The figures show the magnitude

of the country’s recession: the economy

shrank 4.5 percent in the first nine

months of 2015, the central bank said,

while inflation for the same period

came in at a painful 108.7 percent,

fueled by crippling shortages.

“These catastrophic figures (are)

the result of an economic situation that

in another era of regressive neoliberal

and capitalist policies would surely

have pushed (the Venezuelan) people

into unemployment,” said Maduro.

Earlier, the leftist leader sought to

seize the initiative in his standoff with

the legislature, decreeing a 60-day

state of “economic emergency”,

It gave the administration special

temporary powers to boost production

and ensure access to key goods,

including taking over private companies’

resources, imposing currency

controls and “other social, economic

or political measures deemed fitting.”

Addressing the legislature, Maduro

said the plunge in oil prices over the

past year and a half had the country

trapped in an “economic storm” that

pitted two models against each other.

“The socialist model is the only one,

not the neoliberal model that wants to

come and privatise everything,” he said

to jeers from opposition lawmakers.

“You will have to come and

overthrow me if you want to pass a

privatisation law. No, no and no!”

Dressed in his red, yellow and blue

presidential sash, Maduro periodically

sipped from a white coffee cup,

as his mentor, late leftist firebrand

Hugo Chavez, used to do.

At other points, Maduro sounded

a more conciliatory note, saying he

was ready for dialogue.

Addressing the issue of what the

opposition calls political prisoners

from within its ranks — one of its most

acrimonious disputes with Maduro

— the president said: “We are ready

and willing to talk about this and any

other issue necessary to discuss for the

peace that Venezuela demands of us.”

National Assembly speaker Henry

Ramos Allup, a fierce Maduro opponent,

delivered a scathing rebuttal to his

address. “For 17 years, we’ve followed a

wrong-headed economic model. Here

are the numbers to prove it,” he said,

referring to the new statistics.

The current National Assembly,

inaugurated 10 days ago, is the first

controlled by the opposition since

Chavez came to power in 1999.

Institutional arm-wrestling threatened

to paralyse the legislature until

last-minute compromises set the stage

for Maduro to deliver his annual presidential


After the opposition won a landslide

election victory last month, Maduro

secured a Supreme Court injunction

reducing its majority from two-thirds

to three-fifths, limiting his rivals’ powers

to force him from office as they

have vowed.

The opposition Democratic Unity

Roundtable (MUD) initially defied what

it calls the pro-Maduro court.

But it bowed to pressure from the

judiciary on Wednesday, when three

of its lawmakers agreed to quit while

authorities investigate them over the

Maduro camp’s allegations of electoral

fraud. Leaders have been wary

of fanning tensions, mindful of deadly

street clashes in 2014.

The so-called “supermajority”

would have allowed the opposition

to launch constitutional measures to

cut short Maduro’s mandate, which

expires in 2019. Maduro accuses capitalist

forces of waging “economic war”

on Venezuela by starving it of goods.

Call to stop deportations

Immigration advocates rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, yesterday as justices

consider whether or not to hear the appeal of a November ruling that upheld a 2015 decision to stop

US President Barack Obama’s action to shield more than four million immigrants from deportation.

Participants of the rally called for deportations to stop.

US issues travel alert over Zika virus


NEW YORK: US health officials issued a travel warning

for 14 countries and territories in the Caribbean and

Latin America where infection with Zika, a mosquitoborne

virus, is a risk.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) in particular cautioned pregnant women not to

travel to those areas as Zika has been linked to a serious

birth defects. The travel alert applies to Brazil, Colombia,

El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,

Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela,

and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

It also includes advice that women who are trying to

become pregnant should consult with their doctor before

traveling to those areas. Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes

species mosquitoes, which also spread dengue and chikungunya

viruses and are common in Texas, Florida and

elsewhere in the United States.

Zika is usually a mild illness with fever, rash and joint

pain. There is no preventive vaccine or treatment. CDC

said all travelers should take protective measures against

mosquitoes, such as netting and repellent, if they travel

to areas where the infection is present.

Guzman’s lawyers

slam treatment

in Mexico jail



for recaptured Mexican drug

lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman

condemned prison authorities

late on Friday for refusing them

access to their client, after being

denied permission to bring him

fluffy slippers, a toothbrush and

other items.

Two of Guzman’s lawyers gave

an indignant press conference outside

his maximum-security prison

after they were not allowed to visit

their client and bring him clothes

and other personal items. Lawyer

Juan Pablo Badillo said he feared

for Guzman’s health and safety.

“There’s a growing fear (among

Guzman’s lawyers) that something

may happen to him, because it’s

suspicious that they won’t even let

his defence attorneys look at him,

ask him how he’s feeling, what he’s

been through, whether he’s been

tortured,” he said.

“I hold the prison directors and

the interior minister responsible if

Guzman is the victim of any illness

caused by the cold,” said lawyer

Jose Luis Gonzalez, showing journalists

the items he had packed in

a small blue suitcase for his client.

Guzman, the kingpin of the powerful

Sinaloa drug cartel, escaped

from the same prison outside Mexico

City on July 11.

He was recaptured a week ago

after six months on the run and sent

back to prison — this time with two

tanks posted outside and heavily

beefed-up security measures.

First group of weary

Cubans reach US


MIAMI: The first few dozen of thousands

of Cubans trying to reach the

United States after being stranded

for months in Costa Rica crossed the

Mexican border into Texas yesterday,

ending a dangerous odyssey.

They were processed in a Mexican

immigration office in the border

town of Nuevo Laredo and walked

out on the other side of the frontier in

Laredo, Texas. Migrants group Cubanos

en Libertad, an organisation which

helps Cubans arriving in Texas, said

59 had crossed the border.

Most came to join family members

already living in the United States,

many of them in Florida, said a representative

of the group, Alejandro Ruiz.

“Last night 12 arrived after

traveling by plane to Nuevo Laredo

and this morning another 47 arrived

by bus,” he said, after the 40-hour

drive from the southeastern state of

Chiapas. Under US law, they automatically

get permission to stay and

are put on a fast track to permanent

residency after one year.

That welcome is the sweet reward

the Cubans sought after a grueling trek

through South and Central America

that was fueled in part, and ironically,

by the thaw in US-Cuban ties.

“We are happy because we

achieved our goal,” said one of the

Cubans, Randy Cuevas, 29, in a video

posted on the Facebook page of Cubanos

en Libertad.

“This was my dream, the dream

of all Cubans,” said another, 20-yearold

Lilian de Gonzalez.

The dozen were among 180 who

set out from Costa Rica this week,

first by plane to El Salvador — skipping

over Cuba ally Nicaragua, which

would not let them pass — and then

by bus through Guatemala to Mexico.

That bus trip alone took 13 hours.

It was organised by regional governments

and the International

Organisation for Migration (IOM).

They were allowed to travel to

Mexico after its government reached

an agreement with various central

American countries. But nearly 8,000

others remain stranded in Costa Rica,

waiting since late last year to make

the trip north to the United States and

the lure of a better life.

Thousands of Cubans have left the

Communist island in recent months

over concerns that the re-establishment

of US-Cuban diplomatic relations will

prompt Washington to drop its policy of

giving them automatic residence when

they set foot in the United States. For

many of the Cubans, their trip began

in Ecuador, where until recently they

could travel without a visa.

From there they made their way

through Colombia, into Panama and

then Costa Rica, often traveling along

smuggling routes. Many of the Cubans

experienced extortion and kidnapping

threats along the way. The trip

through Mexico is particularly daunting:

there, crime and drug gangs are

known to prey ruthlessly on migrants,

often kidnapping and holding them

for ransom and then killing them if

no one back home pays up.


19 17

Tennessee couple first official winners of jackpot

John and Lisa

Robinson said they

had barely slept since

defying the odds to

hit the jackpot, but

they smiled when

a lottery executive

handed them a

giant check before a

phalanx of television



NEW YORK: Lottery officials confirmed

late on Friday that a Tennessee

couple held one of three winning tickets

for a world record $1.6bn jackpot

and handed them a symbolic cheque

for $528.8m.

John and Lisa Robinson said they

had barely slept since defying the odds

to hit the jackpot, but they smiled when

a lottery executive handed them a giant

check before a phalanx of television


John works at a maintenance

distribution centre and Lisa for a

dermatologist. Their adult daughter

Tiffany stood next to them with their

rescue dog Abby.

The Robinsons, from the tiny town

of Munford, with barely 5,000 residents,

appeared overwhelmed by their

incredible luck in the Powerball jackpot

draw on Wednesday. The chances

of winning were 1 in 292.2 million.

The couple told reporters that they

wanted to pay off their daughter’s student

loans, but had no plans to move

and wanted to continue working. They

intend to donate funds to their church

and a children’s hospital and to help


Rebecca Hargrove, President of

the Tennessee Lottery Corporation,

said they would have to wait 10 days

for their actual winnings, which the

commission would pay after retailers

send in the proceeds of record

ticket sales.

“They’ll get a small cheque today

for a few million,” said Hargrove.

The couple have opted to receive

a one-time cash payment of $337m

rather than $528.8m divided into

annual payments over 29 years. There

is no state tax on lottery winnings in


“More stress comes with that ticket,”

Lisa told a news conference in Nashville

after flying in from New York,

where the couple had appeared on

national television.

The Robinsons said they had consulted

the Internet and followed the

advice they found there, hiring an

accountant and a lawyer to help them

navigate their riches.

Their lawyer, Joe Townsend, asked

the media to give them time to rest

before deciding on any further media

appearances. “They’re almost 48 hours

without any sleep,” he told reporters.

The family’s life changed forever

when John bought four Powerball tickets

at his wife’s request just a few hours

before Wednesday’s live television draw,

then headed off to sleep because he

was not feeling well.

It was his custom to buy four tickets,

one for each member of his immediate

family. The couple also have a son.

Only after checking the numbers

three times did an astonished Lisa alert

her husband.

“I went running down the hallway,

‘John, John, you’ve got to check these

numbers!’” she told NBC’s Today show.

He checked the ticket four times,

but even then couldn’t quite believe it,

so the couple waited for the news to

Powerball jackpot co-winners Lisa and John Robinson (left) of Munford and Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove (right)

attend a news conference at the headquarters of the Tennessee Lottery in Nashville. The couple revealed on the Today television show that they

held a winning ticket to claim their share of the $1.6bn Powerball prize.

come on in the morning and confirm

there had been a winner in Munford,

which is northeast of Memphis.

Lisa said there had been no time to

plan how to spend the money but she

does not intend to quit her job. “I’ll be

there Monday,” she promised.

The Robinsons said they only

played the lottery when the jackpot

got particularly high in hopes of getting

“a little piece of the pie”.

John said he did not make enough

money to play every week. “Actually, I

was on way home from work, and she

had called me and she said, ‘Are you

going to stop and get a couple lottery

tickets?’” John told NBC.

“I really didn’t feel like stopping that

Canada’s top

court delays

new assisted

dying rules

night, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll stop’... I

wasn’t feeling good, and I handed the

tickets to her and said, ‘I’m going to go

lay down’,” he said.

The winning numbers were 4, 8,

19, 27 and 34, drawn from five white

balls, and 10 as the so-called Powerball

number on a red ball.

The identities of the two other

winning ticket holders have not been

revealed. A ticket in California was

bought at a Los Angeles convenience

store and one in Florida from a Melbourne

Beach supermarket.

The previous US jackpot record of

$656m, on March 30, 2012, was scooped

by three winners from North Carolina,

Puerto Rico and Texas.

Oregon refuge

occupier arrested

Sheryl Goldfarb, a Porter ranch resident of over 27 years, holds a placard expressing her feelings as

residents from Porter Ranch and neighbouring communities attend a town hall meeting at the Shepard

of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, California, to discuss the Aliso Canyon gas leak.

California residents vent frustrations

over state’s biggest gas leak

Reuters & Agencies

LOS ANGELES: California residents

sickened and forced to evacuate their

homes in the biggest methane gas leak

in state history voiced their frustrations

at a public meeting late on Friday,

with many saying they opposed the

resumption of work at the natural

gas facility.

Neither the state nor the utility

have been able to stop the leak that

has affected thousands of residents

since it was detected on October 23

at an underground natural gas storage

field in Porter Ranch in northern

Los Angeles.

Environmental activists such as

Erin Brockovich have called it the worst

leak in the United States since the 2010

BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Southern California Gas Co, one of

the country’s biggest gas utilities and

a division of San Diego-based Sempra

Energy , has said the leak was caused

by a broken injection-well pipe several

hundred feet beneath the surface

of the 3,600-acre field.

The company aims to complete

a relief well to stop the leak by late


The late Friday meeting marked

the highest level delegation of California

officials to the Porter Ranch

area since Governor Jerry Brown visited

the site on January 4, prompting

him to declare a state of emergency.

About 1,000 residents attended the

meeting to voice their concerns to a

panel of local and state officials that

included Mark Ghilarducci, the director

of the governor’s office of emergency

services, and Matt Rodriquez, Secretary

of Environmental Protection in


Attendees held signs that read “Shut

it ALL Down”, and asked about the

immediate impact on their health,

whether they had stayed in their homes

or decided to relocate, with expenses

to be covered by Southern California

Gas Co.

The Environmental Protection

Agency had said early this month

that it was investigating a massive

ongoing natural gas leak.

More than two months after the

leak started, methane gas continues

to escape from an underground pipe

at Southern California Gas Company’s

Aliso Canyon facility.

Thousands of residents, however,

said the gas smell — stemming from

an odorous additive called mercaptan

used to signal a leak -- made them

feel sick, bringing on headaches, dizziness

and nausea.

“”What are you doing now?” meeting

attendee and longtime Porter Ranch

resident Scott Barrer said. “Legislation

down the road doesn’t work. We’re still

paying gas bills to the people who are

poisoning us.”

Southern California Gas Co has

said stopping the leak is its highest

priority and is committed to working

with the community. It could not

be reached for comment about the



OTTAWA: Canada’s high court gave

parliament another four months late

on Friday to rewrite the law in order

to allow doctors to help gravely ill

patients die upon request.

The government had asked for

time to amend the nation’s Criminal

Code after the court in February

2014 quashed a section prohibiting

assisted suicide, effectively authorising

it for consenting adults with

serious health problems.

The court had already suspended

its ruling for one year to

allow legislators an opportunity

to enact new rules surrounding the

divisive issue.

But a new Liberal government

won an October general election and

asked for a further six-month delay.

Granting the further extension

is an “extraordinary step,” the court

said in its decision, “since its effect is

to maintain an unconstitutional law.”

However, the court also agreed

to a few exemptions that would allow

some patients to proceed now with

assisted suicide, notably in Quebec

province, which rolled out Canada’s

first assisted dying framework

last month.

Local media said two people in

Quebec had already asked for help

dying. One of them was approved

and died in hospital. Health officials

are still considering the second

request. Elsewhere in Canada, until

June when the injunction is set to

expire, a patient may seek permission

from a judge to proceed.

The Supreme Court’s February

2015 decision had reversed its

own 1993 ruling in the case of Sue

Rodriguez, a pioneer in the fight

for the right to die in Canada. At

that time, the court had expressed

concern about protecting vulnerable

persons, but in its newer ruling

last year pointed to changed Canadian

social values. Polling shows a

strong majority of Canadians — 85

percent — support the right to die.

Some form of physician-assisted

dying is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg,

the Netherlands, Switzerland

and in a handful of US states.


OREGON: A member of the group

of armed men who have seized a US

wildlife refuge in Oregon in an antigovernment

protest has been arrested

after driving a government vehicle to

a local supermarket, officials said.

The arrest was the first made since

the group took over buildings at the

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on

January 2 in the latest conflict over

the US government’s control of land

in the West.

Law enforcement officials had

so far kept their distance from the

site, located about 48km south of the

small town of Burns in Oregon’s rural

southeast, in an effort to avoid a violent


But police arrested Kenneth

Medenbach, a 62-year-old resident

of Crescent, Oregon, after he drove

a vehicle owned by the US Fish and

Wildlife Service to a local supermarket

late on Friday, the Harney County

Sheriff’s office said in a statement.

He was charged with unauthorised

use of a motor vehicle. Medenbach

could not be reached for immediate

comment and it was unclear if he had

retained an attorney.

The group, led by the sons of a

Nevada rancher who with a large

group of heavily armed men successfully

stared down federal agents in a

2014 dispute over grazing fees, had

earlier made a public call for help

with supplies to cope with the winter

weather, with temperatures at the

reserve expected to dip below freezing

in the coming days.

That plea led to shipments of sex

toys, glitter and nail polish, which

prompted online video complaints

by the occupiers.

The occupiers declared their move

a show of support for two local ranchers,

Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son

Steven, who were returned to prison

earlier this month for setting fires

that spread to federal land.

A lawyer for Hammond family

has said that the occupiers do not

speak for the family.

Residents have expressed a mixture

of sympathy for the Hammond

family, suspicion of the federal government’s

motives and frustration

with the occupation. The chair of a

local Native American tribe called on

federal officials to remove the occupiers.

“Armed protesters don’t belong

here,” said Charlotte Rodrique, chair

of the Burns Paiute Tribe. “They should

be held accountable.”

Occupier Duane Ehmer and his horse stand at the entrance to Malheur

National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Burns, Oregon late on Friday.



Minimum: 14o C Maximum: 24o C

FAJR 05.01 am

SHOROOK 06.21 am



11.44 am

02.46 pm



05.09 pm

06.39 pm


LOW TIDE 03:30 - 17:15

Strong wind and high seas. Partly cloudy.









Two DFI-funded films nominated for


Qatar weighs setting up intellectual

property centre

Syria regime in major operation across

Aleppo province


A cameraman takes video of an ice sculpture called “The Melody of Sunset”, created by participants

from the city of Barnaul, during the annual International festival of snow and ice sculptures “The Magical

Ice of Siberia”, on an embankment of the Yenisei river, with the air temperature at about minus 26

degrees Celsius, in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, yesterday.

DiCaprio has ‘no nerves’ over Oscar pick


The Melody of Sunset

LONDON: US actor Leonardo DiCaprio

claimed to feel no nerves at the

prospect of claiming his first Oscar

for his role in The Revenant, saying

he had “done the work” and could

do no more.

“The one reassuring thing about

all this award season stuff is that you

have absolutely no control over the

outcome,” he told BBC radio.

“You’ve done the work, I do not

know why I should be nervous. While

you’re on the set and you give everything,

that’s all you can do,” he added,

after film’s British premiere. The actor

has been nominated four times for

the Best Actor award but has never

got his hands on the famous statuette.

The Revenant is an odyssey of

survival and revenge in which DiCaprio

ate raw buffalo liver, climbed snowy

mountains and bathed in icy rivers as

he played the legendary trapper Hugh

Glass. The film is up for 12 Oscars.

“It feels great, man. It really does,”

DiCaprio said. “This is an epic art film.

So to have something not only do as

good as it’s been doing in the box office,

but to get having this movie recognised

by our peers, it does feel amazing.”

Men over 30

are outdoing

women with

their selfies


LONDON: Posting a selfie after age

40 is pretty much a global taboo,

but in the over-30s, more men post

selfies on Instagram than women,

according to a study.

The team behind Selfiecity

project that analyses thousands

of Instagram pics from New York,

London, Berlin, Moscow, Bangkok

and Sao Paulo, studied 3,840 public

photos — 640 for each city — to

find that just four percent of the pictures

on Instagram were actually

selfies, thenextweb.com reported.

More than 80 percent of selfies

tagged in Moscow were taken by

women, compared to just 55 percent in

Bangkok, where the guys were clearly

more cool about snapping a nice pic

to show the world, the study said.

Young women were the major

posters of selfies in all the five major

cities. But female selfies were particularly

abundant, and the women

were particularly young, in Moscow.

The team combined AI analysis

using the Orbeus ReKognition API

with help from Amazon’s Mechanical

Turks to try to help them establish the

mood, pose and different features, like

whether people are wearing glasses.

Combining different attributes, they

found that just three men in the dataset

were aged over 40, live in New

York City and do not wear glasses.

According to the database, across

the world it’s happy or calm over

grumpy, keeping our eyes open and

our mouths closed.

The press


about new


SpaceX to launch

ocean satellite,

try water return


LOS ANGELES: A $180m satellite

to study the world’s oceans in a

changing climate will blast off Sunday

atop a Falcon 9 rocket, which

SpaceX will try to land on a floating

platform after launch.

The satellite, known as Jason-3,

aims to offer a more precise look at

how global warming and sea level

rise affect wind speeds and currents

as close as 1km from shore,

whereas, past satellites were limited

to about 10km from the coast.

“That is a significant advantage

over our predecessors,” said Jim

Silva, Jason-3 programme manager

at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration (NOAA).

The technology will also monitor

global sea surface heights, tropical

cyclones and help support seasonal

and coastal forecasts. During a fiveyear

mission, its data will also be

used to aid fisheries management

and research into human impacts

on the world’s oceans. The satellite

is the fruit of a four-way partnership

between NOAA, Nasa, the French

space agency CNES (Centre National

d’Etudes Spatiales) and the European

Organisation for the Exploitation of

Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

The launch is scheduled for

today at 1842 GMT from Vandenberg

Air Force Base in California.

After the rocket sends the satellite

on its way, the first stage of the

Falcon 9 will power back toward

Earth in a bid to set itself down on

a barge, or droneship, as SpaceX

calls the floating platform.

The attempt is the latest in

a series of trial runs as SpaceX

attempts to make rocket parts reusable,

lowering the cost of spaceflight

and making it more sustainable and

accessible. Currently, expensive

rocket components are jettisoned

into the ocean after launch, wasting

hundreds of millions of dollars.

The California-based company

headed by Internet entrpreneur Elon

Musk managed to land the Falcon

9’s first stage—the long, towering

portion of rocket—on land at Cape

Canaveral last month. But an ocean

landing has proven elusive, with

prior attempts ending in failure.

People standing near a tree house in the Kyauk Ye village on the

outskirts of Yangon.

Rampaging elephants force

villagers to tree-top refuge


TAIK KYI, MYANMAR: Pushed from

their forest home by encroaching farm

land, wild elephants are driving fearful

villagers in a Myanmar township

to seek refuge in tree houses while

the animals storm their rice paddies

looking for food.

The elephants have trampled

crops, destroyed homes and even,

villagers say, killed people in their path

— forcing families in Kyat Chuang to

build new shelters made of wood and

bamboo on higher ground.

“We have had to move our huts into

the trees, so we are safe,” explained

San Lwin, who dashes several metres

up a tree to his thatch-roofed shelter

when the elephants are near.

Villagers in Kyat Chaung, a

farming community 100km north

of Yangon, said they yearned for the

days before the elephant rampages

started three years ago.

Now they scamper up home-made

bamboo ladders to their elevated huts

whenever they hear the thundering

sound of elephant feet, which is usually

several times a week.

“We want them to be taken away

... so we can live peacefully,” said Than

Shin, a 57-year-old farmer.

Spurred by the loss of their forest

habitats, the elephants, and villagers

they have been terrorising, are some

of the casualties of Myanmar’s alarming

rate of deforestation, one of the

fastest in the region.

The country lost almost 20 percent

of its forest cover between 1990

and 2010, according to the UN Food

and Agriculture Organisation.

Experts say the chief drivers of

forest loss are logging and large-scale

land concessions for commercial agriculture

handed out under decades of

opaque junta rule.

Myanmar’s population of wild

Asian elephants is thought to be one

of the largest in the region, according

to the World Wildlife Fund.

But the endangered species is

increasingly threatened by habitat

loss, a thirst for ivory, and traffickers

who smuggle the animals into Thailand

for the tourist industry.

The newly-elected National

League for Democracy (NLD) — the

pro-democracy party of Aung San

Suu Kyi that swept to a thumping

majority in landmark elections in

November — said on Thursday that

it would address Myanmar’s medley

of environmental issues after assuming

office later this year.

“We will try to restore the environment

in Myanmar that has been

ruined for many decades,” Soe Nyunt,

vice chairman of the NLD’s Environmental

Conservation Committee said.

“It will not be easy,” he added.

PAGE | 26 PAGE | 22

Bond investors

waiting for

Draghi’s next move


QE 9,185.12 -220.12 PTS

DOW 15,988.08 -390.97 PTS

FTSE100 5,804.10 -114.13 PTS

BRENT $28.94 -$1.94

Corbyn moots ban on

dividend payments

by low-wage firms

SUNDAY 17 JANUARY 2016 • 7 Rabia II 1437 thepeninsulaqatar @peninsulaqatar @peninsula_qatar

Market worries hit smartphone sales

Absence of major


innovations, stiff

competition from

Chinese brands and

rapidly changing

consumer behaviour

take the toll

By Mohammad Shoeb

The Peninsula

DOHA: As mobile phone companies go

aggressive to grab Qatar’s market share

in the new year, the local electronic

market is witnessing a perceptible slow

down. The sales of electronic gadgets

and other items, especially the high-end

smartphones, have witnessed a decline

over the last few months in Qatar compared

to the same period a year ago.

Enquiries with several dealers of

some major smartphone brands have

revealed that there is not one but a combination

of factors responsible for the dip

in the demand, which include absence

of major technological innovations in

BEIJING: The new Asian Infrastructure

Investment Bank (AIIB) will boost

investment in the region while contributing

to “fairer” global economic

governance, Chinese President Xi

Jinping said yesterday at the formal

opening ceremony in Beijing.

The China-backed AIIB — which

has 57 members but notably excluding

the latest smarphones; stiff competition

from relatively inexpensive Chinese

brands with similar features; and rapidly

changing consumer behaviour. Aiming

at boosting the declining sales, most

outlets are offering heavy discounts

and attractive combo-offers, even on

flagship smartphones that were sold

like hotcakes immediately after their


For instance, smartphones such

as Samsung’s Galaxy S6, priced at

QR3,099 with 32 GB and 4G specifications

(equipped with all the other

latest features like Lollipop OS, 3GB RAM

and 16MP camera), are being sold at just

about QR1,999, nearly at a massive discount

of over 35 percent at the market

AIIB to boost regional

investments, says Xi

the US and Japan — is viewed by some

as a rival to the World Bank and ADB.

“The funding and inauguration

of the AIIB will effectively boost

investment to support infrastructures

development in Asia. It will serve to

channel more resources, particularly

private investment, into infrastructures

projects,” he said.

retail price. “Compared to last year, I

do not see any big growth in demand of

consumer electronics items and mobile

phones, including smarphones and tablets,

as there are not much innovations

in the products across all the leading

brands,” a top official of a Korean electronics

giant told The Peninsula.

He said: “In the rapidly changing

market scenario, smartphones have

also become like perishable items. They

have very short life-span in markets in

terms of excitement, and manufacturers

are faced with the challenge to clear

their stocks quickly before the arrival

of a next generation phone.”

He also said that other important

factor for falling demand is the

change in the trend of customers. “People,

unlike before, no longer prefer to

shift from one phone to another just for

small changes, as there are no major

innovations taking place in any next

generation smartphones.”

“Qatar’s smartphone market is different

from other markets. First, the

mobile penetration here is very high.

A significant percentage of population

in Qatar already keeps more than one

smartphones. Secondly, a lot of techsavvy

customers look for value addition

and innovation in their new phones.

Changing mobile phones frequently is

no longer a popular thing here to do.”

He also added that more or less all

high-end smartphones carry identical

features with very negligible differences.

So there is a stiff competition among

the players. In addition, some Chinese

brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo

and ZTE, with similar features and

specifications, are giving tough time to

leading brands.

Samsung’s global market share during

Q3, 2015 declined to 24.6 percent

from 26.7 in Q2, 2015, but the Korean

electronics giant is still No 1 in terms of

the global smartphone brand by shipment

followed by Apple. Apple’s global

market share in smartphone has also

declined to 13.7 percent in Q3, 2015 from

15.4 percent in Q2 2015, according to

available data.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) unveiling a sculpture during the

opening ceremony of AIIB in Beijing yesterday.

Among expatriates,

Sri Lankans gained

most in currency fall

By Sachin Kumar

The Peninsula

DOHA: Among the expatriates in

Qatar, Sri Lankans gained the most

in 2015 from the currency depreciation.

Sri Lankan rupee declined by

a massive 10 percent, or 3.6 rupees,

against Qatari riyal last year. The

currency started the year at 36 per

Qatari riyal and ended at 39.55 per

riyal in 2015. A depreciating currency

benefits expatriates because

they get additional income due

to decline.

Pakistani and Nepali expatriates

also benefitted significantly

from currency depreciation as

Pakistani currency lost 1.13 rupee,

while Nepalese currency fell close

to 1 rupee against riyal in 2015.

Pakistani rupee was trading at

27.27 per riyal at the start of January

2015, while on December 31, it

was trading at 28.80 riyal. Nepalese

currency started 2015 at 27.27

per riyal on January 1 and ended

the year at 28.31 against one riyal.

Indian rupee depreciated about 5

percent, or 87 paise, against riyal

last year.

Other currencies such as euro,

Egyptian pound, Philippine peso

and Bangladeshi taka also depreciated

last year, but not significantly.

Egyptian pound fell from 1.96 per

riyal in January 1 to 2.14 at the end

of 2015, while euro started the year

at 0.22 per riyal to 0.25 riyal at the

end of December. Peso was trading

at 12.29 per riyal at the start

of year and finished the year at

12.75 per riyal. Bangladeshi taka

was trading at 21.36 per riyal at

the start of 2015 and it ended the

year at 21.52 per riyal.

Last year was the year of

decline for all major currencies

across the globe as many countries

witness fund outflows due

to strengthening of the US dollar.

The Qatari riyal has also gained

against other currencies as it is

pegged to the dollar.

Sri Lankan rupee depreciated

massively against dollar because

of the domestic factors, along with

international factors. The central

bank of Sri Lanka, last year,

decided that it would stop quoting

a reference rate for the currency

and would let markets determine

the rate.

“All major currencies bore

the brunt of dollar strengthening.

Anticipation of rate hike in

interest rate by the central bank

of US and finally a hike in rate in

December last year triggered fund

outflows in many countries. Fund

withdrawals by foreign investors

weakened major currencies,” said

Zuber Abdul Rahman, Operations

Manager, Al Zaman Exchange.

“Devaluation of yuan by Chinese

central bank was another

big blow for many countries that

weakened currencies,” he added.

China, the world’s second-largest

economy after the US, devalued

its currency in August last year

(and in the first week this year)

in a bid to boost its exports and

expand economy. China is grappling

with a softening economy and

wild swings in the stock market.

Lexus launches GS F four-door luxury sports sedan

The new GS F on dispaly.

Pic: Baher/The Peninsula

The Peninsula

DOHA: Lexus announced the launch of

the performance-oriented GS F fourdoor

sports sedan in the Middle East.

With a style eminently suited to everyday

driving, the Lexus GS F conveys

the appeal of the ‘F’ series to a wide

demographic, thus enabling Lexus to

further enhance its brand image of

exhilarating performance.

Lexus launches the GS F to reveal

an exhilarating luxury sports sedan

Sat 16 Jan 2016 19:43

DOHA: Lexus announced the launch

of the performance-oriented GS F fourdoor

sports sedan in the Middle East.

With a style eminently suited to everyday

driving, the Lexus GS F conveys

the appeal of the ‘F’ series to a wide

demographic, thus enabling Lexus to

further enhance its brand image of

exhilarating performance. The GS F

embodies the philosophy of the ‘F’series

which stands for fast dynamic response,

high efficiency and seamless performance

on everyday roads in addition

to race tracks that can be enjoyed by


The GS F is the first new ‘F’ series

sedan model since the launch of the

IS F in 2007. According to Chief Engineer

Yukihiko Yaguchi, “With the GS

F, our aim was to develop a car that

combines the versatility of a sedan

with the agility and dynamic character

of the ‘F’ brand. A car that is fun to

drive every day, whether it is on a busy

street or a winding road, regardless of

one’s driving skills. Having the driver

say ‘That was fun’, ‘That was great’

after driving the car – that’s what the

‘F’ brand is all about.”

“To enhance its dynamic performance

and hone its handling, our team

also spent countless number of hours

on some of the most famous tracks of

the world, including Fuji Speedway

in Japan and the Nürburgring in Germany,”

added Yaguchi.

Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative,

Middle East and North

Africa Representative Office, TOY-

OTA Motor Corporation, said, “True

to the spirit of all the ‘F’-line models,

we developed the GS F to create a

sense of excitement for our customers

whenever and wherever they drive it.

The GS F’s high-speed performance

and handling, which have been nurtured

on race tracks around the globe,

reflect our attempt to provide the ultimate

driving experience.”

Yoshitsugu added: “The sedan

embraces the virtues of sound, response

and limitless power feel to support

Lexus’ ‘F’ brand identity of a performance

car. We look forward to delighting

our customers with this latest model

and would like to acknowledge their

support over the years.” The GS F is

based on the partially revamped GS

model and boasts outstanding performance;

the 5.0-liter V8 engine features

enhanced response and engine-revolution

smoothness, while chassis stiffness

has been improved through cuttingedge

technologies such as laser screw


Furthermore, the vehicle comes

equipped with a variety of standard

features to ensure both excellent driving

stability and an enjoyable ride,

including Torque Vectoring Differential

(TVD), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated

Management (VDIM) that incorporates

an Expert mode and an Anti-lock

Braking System (ABS) that utilizes vertical

acceleration sensors.

The interior and exterior of the GS

F fuse a breathtaking simplicity and

elegance of design, and capture the

mature, luxurious sportiness unique

to the ‘F’ series.



China devaluation creates

spillover risks in EMs: QNB

Certain emerging

markets, such as

China, Thailand and

Malaysia, appear well

positioned to tackle

any potential crisis

The Peninsula

DOHA: The risk of a balance of payments

crisis in certain Emerging

Markets (EMs) pose danger. This could

be triggered by a further slowdown in

China and devaluation of its currency,

lower commodity prices or higher US

interest rates, QNB’s ‘economic commentary’

noted yesterday.

The QNB believes the reaction

of financial markets during the first

week of the year to China’s devaluation

appears overdone. The risk of an

external crisis in China is low with its

current account surplus, low external

debt and significant international

reserves. Some other EMs are also well

positioned to avoid a crisis, such as

Thailand and Malaysia. However, the

risk of a balance of payments crisis in

specific EMs remains a clear.

Financial markets have had their

worst start to the year for some time.

The selloff was broad-based across

most equity, fixed income and commodity


In the first full trading week, global

equity markets fell 6.1 percent,

the worst weekly performance since

the eurozone crisis in 2011. Oil prices

collapsed to their lowest level since

2004. The global rout was triggered

by a devaluation of the Chinese renminbi,

which fell 1.6 percent against

the dollar during the week.

One may question why a relatively

small depreciation of China’s currency

had such dramatic ramifications across

global financial markets. The weakening

of China’s currency appears to

have raised concerns about the risk

of further devaluations, capital flight

and, potentially, a full-blown balance

of payments crisis in China.

China is the largest contributor

to global GDP growth and the largest

consumer of most commodities. The

risk of slower growth leads to negative

sentiment towards countries that are

dependent on Chinese demand as well

as commodity producers. In addition,

higher US interest rates are also working

against these EMs by encouraging

the reversal of capital flows from the

Malabar Gold opens its

145th outlet in Dammam

The Peninsula

DOHA: Malabar Gold & Diamonds

opened its 145th outlet globally in

Dammam, Saudi Arabia at the new

Lulu Hypermarket.

It was opened jointly by Prince

Saud bin Abdulla bin Abdul Aziz and

Yusuff Ali MA, Managing Director of

Lulu Group.

Dr P A Ibrahim Haji, Co-Chairman

of Malabar Group; Shamlal Ahamed

MP, Managing Director - International

Operations, Malabar Gold; Abdul

Salam KP, Group Executive Director,

US to EMs. While a balance of payments

crisis in China is unlikely, some

emerging markets are vulnerable due

to their large current account deficits,

high external debt and low levels of

foreign exchange reserves.

The last large-scale balance of

payments crisis was the 1997/8 Asian

Financial Crisis (AFC), which has some

alarming similarities to current events.

In the early 1990s, as the US was recovering

from a recession, the Fed, under

Alan Greenspan, began raising interest


This led to a stronger US dollar and

capital flight from Asia as past investment

flows were reversed. A number

of South East Asian currencies were

pegged to the US dollar .

The stronger currencies eroded

export competitiveness leading to current

account deficits. With capital flight,

these deficits became un-financeable,

international reserves evaporated, US

dollar pegs were broken and currencies


External debt became unsustainable

as capital flows dried up, economies

slowed and weaker exchange rates

increased the cost of repaying foreign

debt. The crisis ended in severe recessions,

high inflation, an IMF bailout

and widespread defaults on debt. To

avoid a repeat of the crisis, a number

of countries tried to keep foreign debt

Corbyn moots ban on dividend

payments by low-wage firms


LONDON: British Opposition Leader

Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday he would

stop big companies from distributing

dividends unless they paid their

workers the living wage as part of his

proposals to promote fairer working


Corbyn, a socialist who won control

of the Labour Party in September, said

too much of the proceeds of growing

company profits benefit the wealthiest

and called for “pay ratios” to be introduced

to help tackle income inequality.

“Only profitable employers will be

paying dividends. If they depend on

cheap labour for those profits then I

think there’s a question over whether

that’s a business model to which we

should be turning a blind eye,” Corbyn

told a socialist conference in London,

his first major speech of the year.

Britain has already announced

a compulsory ‘national living wage’

of at least £7.20 ($10.26) an hour for

people aged over 25 in April, rising to

around £9.35 an hour by 2020.

Corbyn’s proposals were criticised

by a leading employers’ group,

the Confederation of British Industry

(CBI), which said it did not support his

idea of intervening in company wages.

“The idea of politicians stepping

into the relationship between a private

company and its shareholders

would be a significant intervention,

and not one that we would support,”

Matthew Fell, CBI chief of staff, added

in a statement.

Malabar Group; Gaffoor Edakkuni,

Regional Director, Malabar Gold and

other dignitaries were present at the

opening ceremony.

The showroom conveniently

located at Dammam, the capital of

Eastern Province, will be their second

showroom in the city. Like all other

Malabar Gold & Diamonds outlets, this

showroom will also display a significantly

large collection of traditional

as well as contemporary jewellery in

gold, certified diamonds, platinum

and precious stone jewellery from

across the world that can hold one

spell-bound with their awe-inspiring


Jeremy Corbyn delivers the keynote speech in London yesterday.

Corbyn, whose election was seen

as a major shift back to the political

left for the Labour Party, also proposed

maximum “pay ratios” between

the highest and lowest salaries within

companies. He said Britain’s pay inequality

was only second to the United

States among the Group of Seven (G7)

economic powers.

“Not only is this unfair, it actually

low and maintain large buffers of foreign

exchange reserves. So, where do

EMs stand today compared to 1996,

the year before the AFC?

EMs vary on their vulnerability to

a potential crisis. Some EMs, such as

China, Thailand and to some extent

Malaysia, appear well positioned. These

countries run current account surpluses,

have low external debt (with the

exception of Malaysia) and substantial

foreign currency reserves. They appear

to have learnt from Asia’s experience

during its financial crisis.

However, a number of other

countries, such as Argentina, Chile,

Indonesia and South Africa are vulnerable.

These countries run current

account deficits, which require financing

from foreign investors. In many

cases, these are Chinese companies

investing in mining, agriculture and

infrastructure. These investments may

not continue with the slowdown in

China and its lower consumption of

commodities. In addition, the vulnerable

countries have relatively low

international reserves, which raises the

risk of sharp currency depreciation.

Their high external debt levels

would become more burdensome to

service as currencies depreciate.

Prince Saud bin Abdulla bin Abdul Aziz and Yusuff Ali MA, Managing Director of Lulu Group, inaugurating

Malabar Gold & Diamonds outlet in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

holds back growth. A more equal society

is not only fairer, it does better in

terms of economic stability and wealth

creation,” he added.

Corbyn’s leadership has split

Labour lawmakers between his leftwing

allies and moderates, some of

whom have questioned his ability to

lead the party to victory in a 2020


S&P raises

Iceland’s credit

rating to ‘BBB+’

REYKJAVIK: Standard &

Poor’s announced it had

bumped up Iceland’s credit

rating by one notch to BBB+,

citing progress over the easing

of capital controls imposed

during the 2008 banking crisis.

“The upgrade primarily

reflects the further progress

Iceland has achieved in resolving

the issues standing in the

way of capital account liberalisation

since June 2015,” the

ratings agency said in a statement.

The 2008 economic crisis

caused the sudden collapse of

the island nation’s financial

sector, forcing the country to

ban the outflow of capital for

fear of draining the economy

of all its resources.

S&P added in a statement

that the upgrade “reflects our

expectation that general government

debt will continue

to decline over the next four

years, lowering government

expenditure on interest


The current rating remains

six notches below the highest

ever assigned to Iceland by S&P

-- the second best “AA+” grade

-- between 1996 and 2006.

The outlook for the country

is “stable” given the expected

slowdown in growth in 2016

due to an expected tightening

of monetary policy, said S&P.

Gold futures

gain most in

six weeks as

equities drop

NEW YORK: Gold gained the

most in six weeks as Chinese

stocks retreated into a bear

market and US retail sales

capped the weakest year since

2009, increasing demand for a

haven. Platinum fell to a sevenyear


Bullion rebounded from

the biggest drop of the year

as Chinese equities slipped

after investors lost confidence

in government efforts

to manage the country’s markets

and economy. US equities

headed for their lowest levels

in 15 months, and crude

oil plunged below $30 a barrel.

Gold extended gains after

US government data showed

sales at retailers fell in December,

wrapping up the smallest

annual advance of the current

economic expansion.

The metal has been whipsawed

this week, after rallying

to a two-month high last Friday,

as investors sought a

store of value following the

rout in Chinese shares that

spread across the globe. Federal

Reserve Bank of Boston

President Eric Rosengren said

this week that estimates for

US economic growth are falling,

putting the projected path

for interest-rate increases at

risk. Tighter monetary policy

makes gold less competitive

against other assets that pay

interest or offer dividends.

“A recovery in bullion is

prompted by the equity weakness

overnight in China, and it’s

been reinforced by the declines

today,” James Steel, the chief

commodities analyst at HSBC

Securities (USA) Inc. in New

York, said in a telephone interview.

“We might be getting to

the point where it’s triggering

some safe-haven buying.”

Gold futures for February

delivery gained 1.6 percent to

settle at $1,090.70 an ounce

at 1:56 pm on the Comex in

New York, the biggest advance

since December 4. Prices slid

0.7 percent.

Barclays Best Private

Bank in Qatar: EMEA

The Peninsula

DOHA: Barclays was named Best Private

Bank for high net worth clients in

Qatar for 2015 at the EMEA Finance

Middle East Banking awards, confirming

the bank’s leading position

in the wealth and investment management

industry across the Middle

East region and in Qatar.

The awards, which are organised

by one of the leading international

banking and finance publications,

acknowledged Barclays’ initiatives

and level of service provided to private

banking clients in Qatar, as well as

the full range of bespoke investments,

credit and wealth advisory products

provided by the bank. In addition,

the award recognised Barclays’ ‘Integrated

Banking Model’, which allows

clients of the Wealth and Investment

Management division in the Middle

East to access Barclays’ regional and

global capabilities available through

the Investment Bank and the Corporate


Ihab Al Derzi, Head of Qatar and

Saudi Arabia, Barclays Wealth and

Investment Management, said: “We

are proud to receive this prestigious

accolade for our Wealth and Investment

Management division in Qatar.

These recognitions are a testament

to the quality and breadth of products

and services that we offer our

clients in the Middle East, especially

in the Qatari market.”

“We will continue to provide our

high and ultra-high net worth clients

with bespoke solutions that combine

in-depth regional knowledge and

on-ground expertise, with our global

reach and capabilities.”

Cedric Lizin, Head of Middle East,

Africa and Japan, Barclays Wealth

and Investment Management added:

“Through our focus on becoming the

“Go-To” Bank, our clients will continue

to have access to award-winning

research, best in class products and

services, as well as proactive advisors

that allow the client to access the

best investment opportunities and

make the best investment decisions.”

“Barclays Wealth and Investment

management business has witnessed

an impressive growth, increased profits

and enhanced efficiency over the

past year, in spite of challenging market

conditions. The key to this success

is the bank’s client service focus, as

demonstrated through regular client

feedback surveys.” Commented

Christopher Moore, publisher of EMEA


He said, “Barclays is providing

new and innovative ways to service

clients allowing them to access

unique investment opportunities.

For example, the bank is leading the

way in applying behavioural finance

techniques to their clients’ investing


“First, the bank assists its clients

to define their financial personalities

and investment philosophies, and

then the bank leverages its integrated

banking model and global research

to tailor a portfolio that matches clients’

investment philosophies. This

client centric focus goes along way,

particularly when trying to exceed

the already high demands of typically

very sophisticated high net worth clients,”

he said.



GE to sell appliances

unit to China’s Haier

The deal, potentially

the largest Chinese

purchase of an

overseas electronics

business, highlights

Haier’s global



HONG KONG: General Electric Co.

agreed to sell its home-appliances

business to China’s Qingdao Haier

Co. for $5.4 billion after scrapping a

deal with Electrolux AB last month.

The new pact’s premium over the

$3.3 billion failed Electrolux agreement

was driven in part by GE’s investment

in the century-old unit to make it

more competitive, said Chip Blankenship,

chief executive officer of GE


“We’ve been on a multiyear journey

since 2012 to introduce new products,

improve quality,” Blankenship said in

an interview. “Our earnings are substantially


The quick turnaround from the

Electrolux deal, which was canceled


NEW YORK: Exchange-traded funds

that hold US junk bonds dropped to their

lowest levels since 2009 as the global

growth fears that clobbered stock markets

also raised doubts about whether

companies’ would continue to generate

as much cash to pay their debt

amid objections from US antitrust

regulators, advances CEO Jeffrey

Immelt’s plan to focus the Fairfield,

Connecticut-based company on industrial

manufacturing. He’s selling the

consumer-focused business -- which

makes stoves, washing machines and

microwave ovens -- and unloading

the bulk of GE’s lending arm. Meanwhile,

GE is expanding divisions that

make products such as gas turbines,

oilfield equipment and jet engines.

GE fell 2 percent to $28.49 at the

close Friday in New York amid a broad

market rout. The company’s shares

rose 23 percent last year compared

with a 0.7 percent drop in the Standard

& Poor’s 500 Index.

Haier was one of several prospective

buyers, including China’s Midea

Group Co., in the final round of bidding,

people familiar with the matter have

said. Haier paid 10 times the appliance

division’s earnings over the last

year before interest, taxes, depreciation

and amortization, GE said Friday

in a statement.

The Shanghai-listed company said

it paid a premium for GE’s long history,

brand value and supply chain.

Under the agreement, Haier can continue

using the GE brand for 40 years,

including in China.

“Haier had always fancied themselves

the GE of China so now they

get the real thing,” Steven Winoker,

an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein &

Junk bond ETFs fall to lowest level as oil drops


Energy companies’ bonds were

hit hardest as oil prices fell to $29.73

a barrel, a 12-year low.

Risk premiums on bonds in the

sector — a measure of the extra yield

that investors demand for holding

companies’ credit risk -- widened by

0.12 percentage point for investment

grade credit, and 0.58 percentage point

for junk bonds. “If you start to see signs

Co., said in a note.

Buying a GE business that makes

$8,500 refrigerators underscores the

rise of a Chinese company once known

for making inexpensive fridges for

college dormitories. The deal — potentially

the largest Chinese purchase

of an overseas electronics business,

surpassing state—backed Tsinghua

Holdings Co.’s plans for a $3.8 billion

investment in Western Digital Corp.

— also highlights Haier’s global ambitions.

The company wants to expand

outside its own region and boost its

1.1 percent share of the US market.

“It may be a step for the Chinese

company to build up an international

network while its overseas exposure

now is still small,” said Andrew Song,

an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities

Co. “It’s also likely that they will have

more synergy, as Haier is developing

smart appliances.” Haier has used

international acquisitions to achieve

quick expansion and to consolidate

its overseas resources. The company

bought control of New Zealand’s Fisher

& Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd.

in 2012 and took over part of Sanyo

Electric Co.’s washing-machine and

refrigerator businesses from Panasonic

in March to expand its presence

in Southeast Asia. In 2008, before the

canceled Electrolux agreement, GE

said it would explore options to sell

or spin off the appliances business,

concerned that it was too heavily tied

of distress outside of energy and natural

resource companies, that’s trouble,” said

Russ Koesterich, global chief investment

strategist at BlackRock Inc.

BlackRock’s iShares iBoxx High

Yield Corporate Bond exchange-traded

fund declined to its lowest level since

mid-2009, when the global financial

system was slowly pulling out of the

worst of the financial crisis.

The SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond

General Electric appliances are on display for sale at a store in Westminster yesterday.

to the tumultuous US market. After the

effort was stymied by the financial crisis,

Immelt announced plans to invest

$1 billion to make the appliances business

more competitive.

GE Appliances will keep its headquarters

in Louisville, Kentucky, and

continue to be run by its current

ETF also fell to its lowest level since

mid-2009. Falling commodity prices

lifted credit fear gauges to their highest

levels in three years.

The risk premium on the Markit

CDX North American High Yield Index,

a credit-default swaps benchmark tied

to the debt of 100 speculative-grade

companies, jumped 0.29 percentage

point to 5.55 percentage points at

4:38pm in New York, the highest since

management team after the Haier sale.

Blankenship said the deal will give the

GE business greater resources to expand

research and development.

The sale will generate an after-tax

gain of about 20 cents a share after closing,

which will be offset by restructuring

costs, GE said. The deal, which has been

US stocks slump after retail sales fuel concerns


NEW YORK : US stocks pared losses,

after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index

earlier tumbled past a trough hit on

August 25, as the rout in oil persisted

and data showing falling retail sales

rekindled concern about the health

of the economy.

Energy and technology companies

led losses in the S&P 500 Friday

as all 10 industry groups declined.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fell 3.3

percent after agreeing to settle a US

probe into its handling of mortgagebacked

securities, a move that will cut

its fourth-quarter profit by about $1.5

bn. Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo &

Co. lost at least 3.7 percent even after

reporting quarterly earnings that

topped projections. Wal-Mart Stores

Inc. dropped 1.6 percent after saying

it plans to close 269 stores.

The worst start to a year in US equities

on record has left them trading at

the most attractive level versus bonds

in a year based on one valuation measure.

Dividend yields in the S&P 500

have climbed 30 basis points above the

yield offered by 10- year Treasuries, a

reversal from just last week when the

payout from bonds was higher. The

S&P 500’s multiple based on profits

is also at a cheaper level. The gauge is

trading at 16.8 times reported profits,

a 8.6 percent discount to its average

multiple over the last year.

The S&P 500 dropped 2 percent

to 1,880.74 at 3:10 p.m. in New York,

after earlier falling as much as 3.3 percent

to the lowest level since October

2014, when the Federal Reserve was

ending its bond-buying stimulus program.

Volume on stocks in the index 61

percent higher than the 30-day average

at this time of day. The Dow Jones

Industrial Average slid 392 points, or

2.4 percent, to 15,987.19.

“The laser focus with the markets

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Friday.

is on oil and weaker oil bleeds beyond

the energy sector,” said Joe Quinlan,

New York- based chief market strategist

at US Trust, Bank of America

Private Wealth Management. Quinlan,

who recommends buying beaten

down stocks that have growth potential

like in defense spending, water

infrastructure and global health care,

also said, “This is one of these market

moments when fear trumps all rationality.

We will have to work through

this panic period to move forward.”

Oil plummeted to fresh new lows,

hovering around $29 a barrel, and the

Shanghai Composite Index entered a

bear market.

Concern over China’s slowdown and

deepening crude losses have dominated

investor sentiment in 2016, prompting

a 7.9 percent plunge in the S&P

500. Losses pushed Tobias Levkovich,

chief US equity strategist at Citigroup,

to trim his 2016 target on the S&P 500

yesterday. The measure is poised for

its third weekly decline.

The Chicago Board Options

Exchange Volatility Index jumped 14

percent to 27.22. The measure of market

turbulence known as the VIX has

surged 50 percent so far in 2016.

Corporate earnings may offer cues

on the strength of the US recovery,

with seven S&P 500 companies posting

results today. Analysts project earnings

for firms on the gauge fell 6.7 percent

in the fourth quarter, and downgrades

to global profit growth haven’t been

this bad in seven years.

Stock index futures extended

declines earlier after reports showed

retail sales decreased in December to

cap the weakest year since 2009 and

a Fed gauge of manufacturing in New

York slumped. The 0.1 percent drop

in retail sales matched the median

forecast of economists surveyed by

Bloomberg. The New York Fed’s Empire

manufacturing index plunged to minus

19.37, lower than the minus 4 economists

had forecast.

“The growth picture in the US is

getting cloudier, and the fact that the

Fed tightened in a weak environment

is certainly not helping,” said Krishna

Memani, chief investment officer at

Oppenheimer Funds Inc. in New York.

“The data is clearly supporting how the

markets are feeling at the moment.”

The Fed has stressed the pace of

further rate increases will be gradual,

but data-dependent. Traders are pricing

in about a 30 percent chance of the

central bank acting in March, while

odds for an increase this month have

stayed low since the December liftoff.

Intel Corp. dropped 8.5 percent

after its quarterly sales forecast missed

estimates. BlackRock Inc. fell 4 percent

after the world’s largest money manager

reported fourth-quarter earnings

that missed analysts’ estimates as rising

expenses offset higher revenue.

Marathon Oil Corp. and Transocean

Ltd. retreated 7.1 percent or more. All

energy stocks in the S&P 500 except

one declined today.

Goldman Sachs said in a report

that oil will turn into a new bull market

before the year is out as the price

rout shuts down production, putting

the US shale-oil boom into reverse in

the second half of the year. As US production

slumps by 575,000 barrels a

day, global oil markets will tip from

surplus to deficit, the bank.

November 2012. A similar measure

for investment-grade debt rose 0.063

percentage point to 1.1 percentage

points, a three-year high.

Lower oil prices helped drag down

the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its

lowest level since August 25, leaving

the index down 12 percent from its

May record.

It is the worst start to the year for

the index on record. Some investors

approved by both companies’ boards, is

subject to regulatory and shareholder

approvals, GE said. The company expects

the sale to be completed in mid-2016.

GE and Haier also entered into a longterm

partnership around health care,

advanced manufacturing and softwarefocused

digital operations.

Yen gains to 4

month high as

retail sales add to

global concern


NEW YORK : The yen rallied to the

strongest since August as US retail

sales declined in December, fuelling

concern American consumers

won’t drive economic growth when

other sectors of the economy are


The Japanese currency, which

tends to benefit when investors seek

safe assets, rose against all of its

16 major peers. The dollar and the

euro rose against most of their biggest

counterparts, reflecting haven

demand as stocks and crude oil

extended losses. Higher-yielding

currencies slumped, led by South

Africa’s rand and the Mexican peso.

“It’s a safe haven, so the yen is

the obvious trade,” said Lee Ferridge,

the head of macro strategy

for North America at State Street in

Boston, which oversees $2.4 trillion.

Global financial markets were

roiled this year as Chinese policy

makers struggled to stabilize

stocks and the yuan while commodity

prices slid.

Some analysts are becoming

more concerned that turmoil in

international markets will jeopardize

the US economy.

The median probability for a

US recession in the next 12 months

jumped to 19 percent in this month’s

Bloomberg survey of economists, the

highest since February 2013. The yen

rose 0.9 percent to 116.98 per dollar

at of 5pm in New York. It touched the

strongest level on an intraday basis

since August 24. The euro gained

0.5 percent to $1.0916 per dollar.

wonder if it makes sense to start buying

corporate bonds after a rough start to

the year for the sector.

“I think people are taking it too

far,” said John McClain, a portfolio

managerhead of US high yield at

Aberdeen Asset Management Inc. in


Lower oil prices helped drag down

the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its

lowest level since August 25.



JPMorgan proves Brazil optimist after the collapse

Rising US interest

rates and a global

slump in junk-rated

bonds will also

make it harder for

companies to sell

debt and this will be

a difficult year for

international debt



BRAZIL: After Brazil’s overseas bond

market suffered an unprecedented collapse

in 2015, it’s not surprising that

bankers are less than sanguine about

the prospects for this year.

Banco Santander SA, Grupo BTG

Pactual and Bank of America Corp.,

for example, say debt sales will be little

changed from last year’s total as

Brazil’s suffers its deepest recession

since 1901. Sales sank 83 percent in

2015 to a seven-year low of $7.8 billion,

data compiled by Bloomberg show.

But not all banks are succumbing

to the gloom and doom. JPMorgan

Chase & Co., the second-biggest underwriter

of international bond offerings

from Brazil last year, says sales may

actually pick up in 2016 as companies

tap the market to refinance maturing

debt. The New York-based bank

predicts an increase of as much as 50

percent to almost $11 billion.

“As soon as we external improvement

and some recovery in the

secondary market, we might see

some primary issuance,” said Ricardo

Leoni, the head of Brazilian debt capital

markets JPMorgan. “We might see

companies issuing debt if a market

window opens up as we start to come

closer to upcoming maturities in 2017.”

Brazilian companies have some

$16 billion of bonds coming due in

2017, according to data compiled by


In the longest drought since at least

1999, no Brazilian company has sold

bonds abroad since June as the nation’s

biggest-ever corruption scandal, a

political crisis and a collapse in commodity

prices send borrowing costs

to a seven- year high.

To Augusto Urmeneta, Bank of

America’s head of debt capital markets

for Latin America, Brazil’s economic

woes mean companies will slash capital

expenditures, reducing the need

for bond financing.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based

Bank of America is the fifth-biggest

underwriter of overseas bond sales

from Brazil.

“We expect to see less activity

out of Brazil with more refinancing,”

Urmeneta said by telephone from New

York. “There will likely be a lot of focus

on liability management, much less

in financing capex.”

The real fell 1.2 percent Friday,

bringing its decline over the

past year to 35 percent. “Debt markets

will still be very depressed this

year, with higher spreads and shorter

maturities,” said Cristina Schulman,

executive superintendent for debt capital

markets at Santander Brasil. “This

trend of shrinking the total volume

issued could continue this year.” The

Madrid-based bank is the sixth-biggest

underwriter of overseas bond

sales from Brazil.

After contracting 3.73 percent last

year, Latin America’s biggest economy

will shrink 2.99 percent in 2016,

according to a central bank survey

released Monday.

Rising US interest rates and a global

slump in junk-rated bonds will

also make it harder for companies

to sell debt, according to Guilherme

Paes, the head of investment banking

at BTG Pactual.

“This will be a difficult year for

international debt issuance,” he said.

“With US interest rates rising,

American high-yield facing more

difficulty accessing the market, the

cost of funding is higher and companies

will remain very cautious

to come to market. It will be similar

to last year.”

“For 2016, the expectation for

the region is that we will see some

recovery, hopefully including Brazil,”

he said. “We probably went too

far in terms of deterioration.”

JPMorgan Chase building in New York.

HSBC & BNP to cut securities units



and BNP Paribas SA would ditch their

securities units if they were to fail,

while American International Group

Inc. would spin off its non-life insurance


US regulators gave a glimpse Friday

at how about 125 financial firms propose

to wind themselves down if they

were to collapse. Excerpts of so-called

living wills released by the Federal

Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance

Corp. show that the strategy of

many banks is to leave subsidiaries

operating while their parent companies

go to bankruptcy court.

Plans of non-US banks including

Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion

Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland Plc

and Banco Santander SA were among

those disclosed.

RBC said it would likely sell assets

operated through its capital markets

division into the market rather than

seeking a single buyer for that unit.

RBS said if it were to face failure, it

would look to shed its US operations.

Banco Santander’s preference would

A man walks past a logo of HSBC branch in Hong Kong.

be to sell everything to a single large

bank, though it suggested privateequity

firms or a company like Fiat

Chrysler Automobiles NV may have the

incentive and the ability to purchase a

portion” of the bank’s consumer lending

unit. Proposals also were released

by three companies deemed systemically

important by US regulators — AIG,

Prudential Financial Inc., and General

Electric Co.’s finance unit. Prudential’s

failure would see its financial units

dumping their outstanding derivatives

positions in bankruptcy, while its more

traditional insurance arms would be

rehabilitated through their primary

state regulators, the insurer said.

Prudential said in a statement that

its plan — most of which will only be

seen by the regulators -- demonstrates

that “if necessary, Prudential could be

resolved in a rapid and orderly fashion

without creating systemic risk.”

GE Capital outlined what it

described as a “controlled liquidation”

strategy. The parent company,

GE, is reshaping itself by selling most

of the assets in GE Capital, and plans to

ask regulators to rescind the finance

unit’s systemically important designation.

GE agreed on Friday to sell its

home- appliances business to China’s

Qingdao Haier Co. for $5.4 billion.

Similar portions of the living wills

of 12 large banks, deemed the most

complex -- including JPMorgan Chase

& Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank

of America Corp. and Credit Suisse

Group AG -- were released in July.

In 2014, the Fed and FDIC told the

largest banks to improve their living

wills after saying lenders had failed to

write blueprints that could take them

through bankruptcies without hurting

the broader financial system.

JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of

America and Credit Suisse were among

the firms ordered to amend their plans,

which are required under the Dodd-

Frank Act. Those banks are awaiting

word from regulators on whether their

plans are sufficient.

Dow sinks 390 points

as crude nears $29


NEW YORK: Stocks tumbled around

the world, with US equities sinking to

their lowest levels since August, and

bonds and gold jumped as oil’s plunge

below $30 sent markets reeling. Treasuries

extended gains as economic data

and earnings added to concern that

global growth is faltering.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

sank 391 points, European stocks fell

into a bear market and the Shanghai

Composite Index wiped out gains

from an unprecedented state-rescue

campaign as global equities added

to the worst start to a year on record.

Oil touched $29.28 a barrel before

closing at a 12-year low. A measure of

default risk for junk-rated US companies

surged to the highest in three

years. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes

dipped under 2 percent as doubts

grow that the Federal Reserve will

raise interest rates. Gold surged the

most in six weeks. Crude’s drop to a

12-year low is sending shock waves

around the world at the same time

concern is mounting that China’s

policy interventions will fall short

of stoking growth in the world’s second-largest


Figures on retail sales and manufacturing

Friday showed the US

economy ended the year on a weak

note, and the start of 2016 wasn’t any


Energy firms are laying off workers

and currency markets from

commodity- producing countries are

in turmoil. The slump is also denting

the outlook for inflation, causing

traders to curb bets on how far the

Fed will raise rates this year.

“Markets have to go through several

stages and right now they’re

just holding their head and crying,”

Krishna Memani, chief investment

officer at Oppenheimer Funds Inc.

in New York, said. “The drama and

issue overnight is more related to oil

prices not finding a floor. If it was

just China and everything else was

OK, we’d see through that,” he added.

Citigroup tumbles as revenue gains seen as ‘soft’


NEW YORK: Citigroup Inc. tumbled

6.4 percent, the most in four years,

after reporting fourth-quarter revenue

gains that some analysts said

came from too many one-time items.

The shares dropped to $42.47 at 4

pm Friday in New York after falling as

low as $41.85. They’re down 18 percent

this year, the third-worst performer

in the 24-company KBW Bank Index.

“It was a quarter with a great many

special items,” Chris Kotowski, an analyst

at Oppenheimer & Co., said in a

report after the New York-based bank

released its financial results. He called

revenue “soft.”

Net income climbed to $3.34 billion,

or $1.02 a share, from $344 million, or

6 cents, a year earlier, the bank said

in a statement. Adjusted earnings per

share of $1.06 beat the $1.05 average

of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

For the full year, the company reported

adjusted net income of $17.1 billion, the

most since 2006, helped by cost cuts.

Chief Executive Officer Michael

Corbat has been disposing of unwanted

businesses to make the company more

profitable and its earnings more predictable

-- a push that helped cut

fourth- quarter costs from legal matters

and restructuring to the lowest

level since he took over in 2012. The

bank also benefited from last year’s

global surge in corporate dealmaking.

“We have sharpened our focus on

target clients, shedding over 20 consumer

and institutional businesses” in

recent years, Corbat said in the statement.

“We have undoubtedly become

a simpler, smaller, safer and stronger


Revenue at Citi Holdings, the portfolio

marked for disposal, jumped 61

percent to $2.91 billion including an

accounting adjustment. The company

completed sales of businesses such

as subprime lender OneMain Financial

and a credit-card unit in Japan.

David Konrad, an analyst at Macquarie

Group Ltd., had predicted revenue of

$2.47 billion.

“It would certainly be a bigger catalyst

for the stock if you saw a surprise

out of the various units in Citicorp,” the

company’s primary business unit, rather

than in sales of unwanted assets, Shannon

Stemm, an analyst at Edward Jones

& Co. in St. Louis, said in an interview.

“When you look into Citicorp, that’s

where results get a little more mixed.

Revenue growth has been sluggish.”

Wells Fargo & Co., which just surpassed

Citigroup as the third-largest

US bank by assets, also posted fourthquarter

profit that beat estimates,

though lending margins and revenue

missed some analysts’ expectations.

The shares declined 3.6 percent.

Citigroup’s investment-banking

unit brought in $1.13 billion of revenue,

a 5.5 percent increase from a year earlier,

surpassing the estimates of four

analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Matt

Burnell, an analyst at Wells Fargo, estimated

revenue of $965 million, while

Konrad projected $1.07 billion.

Total revenue including accounting

adjustments climbed 4.2 percent to

$18.6 billion, beating the $18 billion

average estimate of 20 analysts surveyed

by Bloomberg. Expenses fell 23

percent to $11.1 billion.

Adjusted profit at Citigroup’s institutional

clients group, run by President

Jamie Forese, fell 18 percent to $1.35 billion.

The unit houses the bank’s trading,

corporate and investment- banking,

private bank and transaction-services


Adjusted equity-markets revenue

climbed 29 percent to $606 million,

coming in short of the $771 million

average estimate of four analysts.

Fixed-income trading revenue rose

7 percent from a year earlier to $2.22

billion, beating the average estimate

of $2.14 billion.

That still left total trading revenue

down 21 percent from the third

quarter, worse than the 15 percent to

20 percent range projected by Chief

Financial Officer John Gerspach last


Lenders have been focusing on

costs as they struggle to boost revenue.

Before earnings reports began Thursday,

analysts estimated the nation’s six

largest banks would cut fourth- quarter

expenses to the lowest since 2008,

helping to produce their highest combined

profit in a decade.

The 2015 efficiency ratio at Citicorp

came in at 57 percent, compared

with the mid-50 percent target set by

Corbat in March 2013. The firm generated

a return on assets of 0.94 percent,

or 94 basis points, meeting its target

of 90 basis points to 110 basis points.



Walmart to close 269 stores affecting 16,000 jobs

Plan will affect less

than 1 percent of its

total square footage

and revenue


NEW YORK: Walmart Stores Inc

plans to shutter 269 stores, the most

in at least two decades, as it abandons

its experimental small-format

Express outlets and looks to streamline

the chain.

The move by the largest private

employer in the US will affect

about 10,000 jobs domestically at 154

locations, according to a statement.

Overseas, the effort will eliminate

6,000 jobs and includes the closing

of 60 money-losing stores in Brazil, a

country where Walmart has struggled.

The plan will affect less than 1 percent

of its total square footage and

revenue, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Doug

McMillon took the step after reviewing

the chain’s 11,600 stores, evaluating

their financial performance and fit

with its broader strategy.

The move also marks the end of its

pilot Walmart Express programme, a

bid to create a network of small corner

stores to compete with dollar-store

chains and drugstores. Walmart will

continue its larger-size Neighborhood

Markets effort, though 23 poor-performing

stores in that chain also will

be closed.

The company is still expanding

its footprint in the US, adding 69 new

stores and 6,000 jobs in January alone.

“We invested considerable time assessing

our stores and clubs and don’t take

this lightly,” McMillon said. “We are

supporting those impacted with extra

pay and support, and we will take all

appropriate steps to ensure they are

treated well.”

Walmart shares fell 1.8 percent

to $61.93 in New York as the broader

market tumbled. They have lost 29

percent of their value over the past

12 months, dragged down by slow

growth and profit declines.

Some investors may be disappointed

that the cuts aren’t deeper,

said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with

Edward Jones. “I don’t think this is

enough to move the needle,” he said.

“I think they need to exit some markets

totally and close a lot more than

they are closing.”

The shutdowns will reduce earnings

from continuing operations by

about 20 cents to 22 cents a share, the

Bentonville, Arkansas-based company

said, with as much as 20 cents

of that coming in the fourth quarter.

Twelve of its massive supercenter

Banks brace for

bigger losses as oil

drops below $30


NEW YORK: The Wall Street banks

that financed the US shale boom are

facing growing losses as oil falls below

$30 a barrel.

Losses are spreading from bondholders

to banks amid the worst oil

crash in a generation. Wells Fargo &

Co, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase

& Co have set aside more than $2bn

combined to cover souring energy

loans and will add to that safety net

if prices remain low, the companies

reported this week.

Losses are mounting as more oil

and natural gas producers default on

debt payments and declare bankruptcy.

Wells Fargo lost $118m on its

energy portfolio in the fourth quarter

and Citigroup lost $75m.

“It takes time for losses to emerge,

and at current levels we would expect

to have higher oil and gas losses in

2016,” John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s

chairman and chief executive officer,

said during an earnings call.

Oil plunged 36 percent in the past

year, putting an end to the debt-fueled

drilling spree that pushed US oil production

to the highest in more than 40

years. After years of spending more

than they made, shale companies

have parked drilling rigs and fired

thousands of workers in an effort to

conserve cash. In 2015, 42 oil and

and gas producers went bust owing

more than $17bn, according to law

firm Haynes & Boone LLP.

The weakness in oil and gas

lending was a hot topic during bank

earnings calls this week, and it’s clear

that the potential for losses is snowballing

the longer prices remain low.

Wells Fargo’s energy reserves of $1.2bn

are enough to cover 7 percent of the

$17bn of the bank’s outstanding oil

and gas loans.

JPMorgan Chase boosted energy

loan-loss reserves by $550m last year

and said it will add another $750m

if oil stays at $30 for 18 months. Citigroup

increased reserves by $250m

and that will go up by an additional

$600m in the first half of 2016 if oil

prices remain at $30. If oil falls to

$25, that number may double.

Lenders are walking a tightrope

between helping their clients stay

afloat and looking out for their own

bottom line. Borrowers with risky

credit typically put up their oil and

gas properties as collateral for their

loan. Historically, lenders managed

to get all of their money back, even in

bankruptcy, by liquidating the assets.

However, foreclosing on a troubled

borrower comes with the risk that

the properties will sell for less than

is owed to the bank.

stores, which employ an average of

about 300 people, will be shuttered.

Most of the closings will occur by the

end of the month. Last year, Walmart

shut three supercenters.

The closing of the smaller-format

stores signals a retreat for Walmart

from one of its main efforts to try to

boost slowing US sales. When the

company introduced the stores in

2011, the aim was to attract shoppers

who didn’t want the hassle of

going to a sprawling supercenter to

pick up a carton of milk after work.

Other retailers, including Target Corp,

have also been making a push into

smaller stores.

The experiment seemed to be

working. As recently as 2014, Wal-Mart

announced plans to open an additional

90 Express stores and touted

their “solid” sales growth. But the company

said it was planning instead to

focus on the mid-sized Neighborhood

Markets, which are about the size of

a grocery store, and its supercenters,

which sell everything from avocados

to windshield wipers.

The closings are good news for

dollar store chains, which had the

most to lose from Walmart expanding

its small format, said Yarbrough.

Walmart will give employees the

chance to relocate to nearby stores.

It also will provide 60 days of pay

and one week of severance for each

year with the company. Walmart

has 1.4 million employees in the US

Carrefour’s sales growth hit by France and China

A Carrefour worker sorting supermarket trolleys in Mexico City, Mexico.


PARIS: Carrefour’s sales growth

slowed in the fourth quarter, as the

Paris attacks in November and mild

winter weather weighed on its core

business, the French retailer said.

Carrefour’s Chief Financial Officer

Pierre-Jean Sivignon told journalists

that the Paris attacks had weighed on

its French sales in the quarter, echoing

French rival Casino which on Thursday

also identified an impact.

Despite the quarterly slowdown,

the world No. 2 retailer achieved its

fourth straight year of rising sales for

2015 as a whole, as a recovery plan

started by Chief Executive Georges

Plassat in 2012 bears fruit.

In Brazil, the group’s second-largest

market after France, business was

Customers visiting a sale at a Walmart store in Alexandria, Virginia.

and 800,000 abroad. McMillon had

signalled to investors that he was considering

closing some stores during the

company’s investor meeting in October.

Still, the move doesn’t mean Walmart

is reducing its overall US stores,

the retailer said on Friday. It plans to

open 50 to 60 supercenters in the US

resilient in the quarter, despite a slower


Trading conditions remained

difficult in China, amid slowing consumption,

the company said in a


Carrefour said its 2015 recurring

operating income would be in line with

expectations of €2.45bn.

Europe’s largest retailer said fourthquarter

sales were €22.43bn ($24.41bn),

in line with the average of analyst estimates

of €22.4bn.

Stripping out fuel, currency and

calendar effects, revenue grew 2.4 percent

year-on-year, a slowdown from

4.2 percent growth in the third quarter.

Carrefour, which makes 73 percent

of its sales in Europe, has suffered

from a reliance on the hypermarket

format it pioneered, as customers shift

to local and online shopping.

The company is making price and

this year and 85 to 95 neighbourhood

markets, which are about the size of a

typical grocery store. That is a slightly

slower pace of growth than the 115 it

added in 2014.

Walmart has come under increased

pressure to cut costs after giving a

gloomy profit forecast for the next

Bond investors waiting on Draghi

as inflation wagers collapse


EDINBURGH: With a plunge in global

commodity prices threatening the

European Central Bank’s already distant

inflation goal, bond investors will

be watching Mario Draghi this week for

signs of a response. Euro-area government

bonds have returned 0.8 percent

since December 3, when the ECB delivered

stimulus that was seen by some

investors as inadequate. Turmoil in

China has further clouded the outlook

for global growth and fueled concern

that the Frankfurt-based central bank’s

goal for 2 percent annual-price growth

is becoming unattainable.

The policy meeting will come just

two days after a report analysts said

will confirm the euro-area inflation

rate stayed at just 0.2 percent last

month, while a gauge of future price

growth favoured by Draghi reached

the lowest since October on Friday.

“The tone of Draghi’s comments

will now be quite dovish given the

recent downward inflation surprises

and the increased risk to the ECB’s

medium-term inflation outlook,” said

Nick Stamenkovic, a fixed-income

strategist at Edinburgh-based broker

RIA Capital Markets Ltd. “It’s a question

of when, rather than if, for the

ECB. That’s going to give good support

to bunds near term.”

The yield on the Germany’s 1 percent

bund due in August 2025 fell four

basis points, or 0.04 percentage point,

this week to 0.47 percent as of the

European Commissioner in Charge of Economic and Financial Affairs

Pierre Moscovici (left) and Mario Draghi, the Italian President of the

European Central Bank (ECB) chat during a Eurogroup finance ministers

meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels.

5pm London close on Friday. The price

rose 0.39, or 3.90 euros per €1,000

($1,097) face amount, to 104.925. The

nation’s bond due in February 2026

yielded 0.54 percent, down from 0.59

percent when it was sold at auction

on January 13. ECB officials will keep

the deposit rate at a record-low minus

0.3 percent on January 21. At the central

bank’s December meeting, policy

makers extended their 60 billion-euro

a month bond-buying programme to

March 2017 from September 2016.

A summary of last month’s meeting,

published on Thursday, showed

some members of the Governing Council

argued in favor of making a deeper

cut to the deposit rate and stepping

up the pace of purchases.

The five-year, five-year forward

inflation-swap rate, a rolling gauge of

inflation expectations that Draghi cited

in the past when advocating monetary

stimulus, slumped to 1.58 percent

on Friday, the lowest since October 2

based on closing prices. The euro has

jumped against all but one of its 16

major peers since the ECB’s December

gathering, further depressing consumer-price


Italian 10-year government bonds

fell for the first time in three weeks,

with the yield rising four basis points

to 1.57 percent. The yield on similarmaturity

Spanish bonds climbed four

basis points to 1.75 percent.

cost cuts and expanding into smaller

convenience stores, while also revamping

its hypermarkets.

Carrefour’s quarterly performance

was ahead of the 0.3 percent like-forlike

sales decline reported by Casino.

Closely watched same-store sales at

Carrefour’s French hypermarkets eased

0.7 percent after a 0.7 percent increase

in the third quarter. Non-food sales

were impacted by particularly mild

temperatures notably in December.

In Brazil, an emerging market Carrefour

has earmarked for expansion,

same-store sales rose 8.5 percent in

the quarter, against 7.4 percent in the

third quarter.

Sales in China were hit by weak

consumption and were down 15.7 percent.

Carrefour is pursuing a plan there

to expand in e-commerce and convenience

stores and open logistics centres

to cut costs.

fiscal year. Earnings are expected to

decrease 6 percent to 12 percent in

the year ending January 2017. Sales

haven’t been growing fast enough to

offset the billions of dollars that Walmart

is spending on higher wages for

its workers and improvements to its



boosts asset

sale list to

meet target


Brasileiro SA increased its

asset sale list and included a

major transport subsidiary to

guarantee the company will

meet a $14.4bn divestment target

this year amid the worst oil

market in a generation, Chief

Financial Officer Ivan Monteiro

told reporters.

The asset sale is the company’s

main bet to reduce the

biggest debt in the oil industry,

and Petrobras, as the statecontrolled

company is known,

will enlarge and renew the list

until the target is met, he said.

“Oil prices fell in an unenviable

speed,” Monteiro said.

“If the group of assets is not

enough, we will add to it”.

The company has included

its logistic and fuel transport

subsidiary Petrobras Transporte

SA, known as Transpetro,

in a group of 20 to 30 assets

under consideration for sale,

Monteiro said.

Transpetro owns oil and

gas pipelines, 49 terminals and

54 oil ships, according to its


Petrobras hired a bank to

evaluate the asset and lead

the process, he said, without

disclosing the bank’s name.

Assets are in different

stages of negotiations and

won’t necessarily be sold,

Monteiro said.

Petrobras is also negotiating

with multiple potential

investors about selling its fuel

distribution unit, BR Distribuidora,

Montiero said.

Fertilising units drew attention

from possible investors.

“Fertilising surprised us,”

he said.

Exploration and Production

head Solange Guedes said

Petrobras will start a second

round of negotiation with suppliers

to reduce daily rates for

major contracts including drill

ships, helicopters and boats.

Lower Brent prices also

made the state-controlled

producer postpone specific

projects to wait for recovery,

Guedes said.

The revitalisation of Marlim

field, one of the biggest

in Brazil, was postponed one

year, she said.

“Oil majors are doing the

same,” she said.



Loonie’s losing

streak portends

more panic

Yellen in 2010 foresaw

more stimulus on cards

By Ari Altstedter

and Allison McNeely



record losing streak in

the loonie, plunging

bond yields and about

$150bn wiped out in the

stock market have left

Canadian investors hanging by a

thread. Panic is starting to set in.

“The word fear is finally starting

to come up,” Martin Pelletier,

managing director and portfolio

manager at TriVest Wealth Counsel

in Calgary, said by phone. “Clients

and people are starting to panic.

It’s sinking in, but no one knows

what to do.”

The country’s benchmark

Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite

Index fell 2.1 percent to 12,073.46

at 4 p.m. in Toronto, undoing Thursday’s

rally and resuming a sell-off

that’s pulled Canada into a bear

market. Stocks plunged 7.2 percent

this year and are down about

23 percent from a September

2014 record. The Canadian dollar

slumped to a new 13-year low

and yields on five- year government

bonds fell to a record low of 0.511

percent on Wednesday as speculation

builds the Bank of Canada

will cut interest rates next week.

Canada’s economy, heavily

weighed toward resource industries

such as oil and mining, has

been rocked by concerns about the

slowdown in China that has pushed

the price of West Texas Intermediate

crude below $30 for the first

time since 2003. Prices for Canada’s

heavy crude, which trades at

a discount to the US benchmark,

have sunk to around $15 a barrel.

“We probably haven’t yet seen

the impact of the lower oil price

transmitted to the rest of the economy

yet,” said Daniel Solomon, chief

investment officer at NEI Investments

in Toronto, which oversees

about C$6 billion ($4.1 billion) in

assets. “We have skipped a recession

for now, but maybe one will

come.”Investors “can probably

expect a rate cut,” Solomon said.

The Canadian dollar fell for an

11th-straight day Friday, continuing

its worst streak ever. That’s fueled

speculation the Bank of Canada will

cut its benchmark interest rate to

its 2009 financial crisis level. One

US dollar bought 1.4529 Canadian

cents at 4 pm

The sell-off mirrored a global

decline in equities as the Dow Jones

Industrial Average dropped 2.4 percent,

European equities slipped

into a bear market and Chinese

stocks wiped out gains to add to

the worst start to a year on record.

The combination of oil and

the Canadian dollar is making the

pain especially acute for Canadians,

analysts from Houston- based

Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. said in

a Jan. 12 note to clients.

“We think the US is bad, but Canada

is even worse,” the analysts

wrote. “The longer this downturn

lasts at these levels, the more likely

it is that balance sheets continue

to get stretched, pushing a Canadian

growth story to the far right.”

Energy companies led stock

declines on Friday, falling 3.5 percent.

Financial services weren’t

far behind, dropping 2.6 percent.

Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s

second-biggest bank by assets,

plunged 3.6 percent to C$67.05, its

biggest drop in more than five years.

“Oil is flowing through the pipeline

to other sectors and it’s causing

fear and panic. People are hitting

the sell button in the other areas,”

Pelletier said. “If you’re out east,

you’re not isolated. This is going

to impact you.”

Daniel Lloyd, founder and

portfolio manager at Sui Generis

Investment Partners in Toronto,

said he sees another 10 percent

decline for Canada’s stock market

this year.

“This isn’t dissimilar from the

tail end of the bull market that

ended in 2007,” Lloyd said. “The

flashpoint of the 2015 iteration is

obviously the collapse in energy

markets and the broader commodity

complex, where you have

hundreds of billions of dollars of

debt issued by companies who are

cash flow negative.”

Anxiety levels are rising in

Alberta, home to the world’s

third-largest oil reserves -- and

one the most expensive places in

the world to produce. More than

40,000 jobs in the energy industry

have been cut nationwide and

billions of dollars in investments

have been scaled back.

“People in the oil patch, either

on the financial side or operating

side, you spend everything that you

think you are going to make, I find,

so there is a lot of stress,” Jennifer

Stevenson, energy portfolio manager

at 1832 Asset Management LP,

said in an interview in Toronto’s

Bloomberg office this week.

Stevenson said friends of her

husband are boat dealers. People

laid off in the oil patch in the

summer were spending their severance

checks on boats because

they thought the oil price would

come back.

“Now, they are not selling any

boats, partly because the US dollar

is up and they are all made in

states, but guys have no dough,”

she said.

Amid all the stock-market carnage,

investors are toying with

trying to time a bottom, said Rafi

Tahmazian, a fund manager.

Jeanna Smialek and

Christopher Condon


The transcripts from

FOMC meetings in

2010 detail Yellen’s


approach to policy

during a pivotal time

for the Fed

Chair of the US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Fed’s semi-annual

Monetary Policy Report to Congress and the state of the US economy in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

voiced concern in 2010 that the nascent

US recovery was shaky and

told colleagues they would have

to do more stimulus beyond the

second round of asset purchases — a forecast

that later proved prescient.

“We should and will end up purchasing

roughly $1 trillion of longer-term securities,”

Yellen said at the November 2010 Federal

Open Market Committee meeting, according

to transcripts released Friday in Washington.

She said the $600b the Fed was committing

to was “a sufficient step for today.” Yellen

was president of the San Francisco Fed that

year until October, when she became Fed

vice chair.

Yellen’s previously unreported remarks

in 2010 may offer new clues on her approach

to raising interest rates

this year, with the Fed trying

to take stock of a US

labour market near full

employment, inflation

below the central bank’s

goal and weak economies

around the world.

The transcripts from

FOMC meetings in 2010

detail Yellen’s behindthe-scenes


to policy during a pivotal

time for the Fed, as

Chairman Ben S Bernanke

and colleagues

attempted to nurture a

rebound from the worst

economic downturn since

the Great Depression. While they contemplated

an exit strategy from stimulus at the

start of the year, the recovery would prove

disappointingly elusive, leading officials to

start a second round of large-scale asset purchases

aimed at boosting expansion.

The Fed in 1995 began its policy of releasing

verbatim discussions with a five-year lag

under pressure from Henry Gonzalez, the

Democratic chairman of the House Banking

Committee in the early 1990s.

Yellen, now 69, said at the April meeting

that she was “heartened” by recent data

showing a stronger economy. By June, her

outlook had soured somewhat after a European

debt crisis flared.

“I still ascribe to the view that the economy

is on a recovery path of moderate growth and

very low inflation, but significant downside

risks to the outlook have once again materialised

and that implies that we should avoid

altering policy in any way that could impede

a fragile recovery,” Yellen said at the June

FOMC meeting.

By August she was calling the economic

outlook “unusually uncertain,” as the Fed

approved reinvesting principal payments

from holdings into longer-term Treasuries,

a policy still in place today. She said she was

concerned about falling inflation and said that

while “a further disinflation seems unlikely,”

the possibility of “a Japan-style deflation

remains a relevant worst-case scenario for

us going forward.”

In November, policy makers restarted

mass bond buying. Officials said in that

month’s statement that progress toward the

committee’s objectives had been “disappointingly

slow.” The FOMC said it intended to buy

$600bn of longer-term Treasury securities

by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a

pace of about $75bn per month.

Yellen’s prediction of further stimulus

would turn out to be too conservative. The Fed

Yellen also proved

right about inflation in

2010, as she worried

repeatedly about weak

price pressures even

as some colleagues felt

risks of inflation were


in September 2012 approved using $85bn

a month to purchase Treasuries and mortgage-backed

securities, with no scheduled

end. Purchases were tapered gradually

before ceasing in October 2014, after about

$1.7 trillion was added to the Fed’s already

bloated balance sheet. It remains now at

about $4.5 trillion.

Yellen also proved right about inflation

in 2010, as she worried repeatedly about

weak price pressures even as some colleagues

felt risks of inflation were rising.

“With various measures of utilization

still showing significant margins of slack,

I expect the downward trend in inflation

to continue,” she said at the March meeting.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation

hit 2.2 percent in January 2010, slowing

to 1.2 percent in November of that year.

BHP faces music on shale spurring belief dividend is next

BHP will cut its rig count

in the shale unit from

seven to five by April

and has put investment

and development plans

for the remainder of this

fiscal year under review

By David Stringer and James Paton


BHP Billiton Ltd.said it expects to take

a writedown of $4.9bn on the value

of its US shale assets due to the tumble

in oil prices. Its next safeguard

against the commodities collapse

may be to abandon its decade-old pledge to

maintain or raise its dividend.

The Melbourne-based producer, the biggest

overseas investor in US shale, is cutting

capital expenditure and seeking other savings

as it grapples with the slide in prices of

metals and energy, and the costs of November’s

deadly dam breach at its iron ore venture

in Brazil.

Iron ore, the company’s top earner, has

slumped more than three-quarters since its

2011 peak, while oil this month plunged below

$30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years.

BHP’s post-tax charge against its US onshore

assets, acquired for $20 billion in 2011, is part

of a rolling response to the slump in raw materials,

which this week has seen rival miner

Rio Tinto Group freeze wages for 2016 and

Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. take

a charge of around $650 million against its

nickel project in Madagascar.

“In what’s probably a protracted period of

lower commodity prices, there’s this writedown

and probably other writedowns to come

elsewhere in the portfolio,” Tim Schroeders, a

Melbourne- based portfolio manager at Pengana

Capital Ltd, said by phone.

“They are getting close to having to come

clean on the progressive dividend.” Schroeders

helps oversee about $1bn in equities, including

BHP shares.

BHP will cut its dividend payment by half to

31 US cents in the six months to December 31,

according to Bloomberg Dividend Forecasts.

“At the moment, the biggest concern they

have is can they fund their dividend, can they

fund their capex plans?” Citigroup Inc. analyst

Clarke Wilkins said by phone from Sydney.

BHP is likely to trim both its dividend and

project spending when it announces half-year

results next month, he said.

BHP will balance its commitment to a strong

balance sheet and maintaining its credit rating

as it considers the dividend payout, Chairman

Jac Nasser told investors at an annual meeting

in Perth in November. The company declined

to comment Friday on the prospect of any

change to its dividend.

The writedown on its US shale assets

would extend to about $8.7bn the post-tax

charges BHP has booked against the operations

in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The

new impairment will reduce the value of the

business to about $16bn, BHP said Friday in

a statement.

BHP rose 1.3 percent to A$15.07 in Sydney,

paring its decline in the past 12 months

to 40 percent. After its London- listed shares

jumped 6 percent Thursday as iron ore and

oil gained, there had been expectation of a

stronger gain in Australian trade, according

to Melbourne-based IG Ltd. analyst Angus


“This announcement has clearly taken

a lot of steam out of that,” he said by phone.

“All things considered, it’s probably a bigger

writedown than many had expected, even if

some were pricing in a writedown.” The producer’s

Sydney shares on Wednesday slumped

to their lowest since May 2005.

Crude oil prices dipped to a 12-year-low this

week after falling the past two years, prompting

tens of billions in impairment charges as

companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc

and Chesapeake Energy Corp reassessed the

value of their operations. For BHP, the world’s

largest mining company, oil and gas prices

have remained below the levels that it said

last year it needed for its onshore division to

be cash flow positive.

“BHP forked out a reasonable sum of money

to buy all these US assets,” said David Lennox,

resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney.

“It’s not good that this has happened, but they

are in the business of producing oil and gas,

and the shale assets are going to be around

for another 40 years. We expect energy prices

will recover in the latter half of this year,”

Lennox said.

BHP will cut its rig count in the shale unit

from seven to five by April and has put investment

and development plans for the remainder

of this fiscal year under review, according to

its statement.

“While we have made significant progress,

the dramatic fall in prices has led to the disappointing

writedown,” Chief Executive Officer

Andrew Mackenzie said in the statement.



Meet Henrik Fisker’s new,

$268,000 Force 1 supercar


Aston Martin has nothing

to worry about.

Reports surfaced earlier

this week that Aston

lawyers sent celebrity

designer Henrik Fisker a letter warning

him not to unveil his VFL Automotive

Force 1 supercar in Detroit on

Wednesday. They were said to have

claimed that the car looked too similar

to the Aston Martin DB10 and to

have demanded that Fisker change

the design in order to avoid conflict

with Aston Martin’s copyrights.

Following the VFL Automotive

Force 1’s debut on Wednesday, nobody

would confuse Fisker’s car with anything

so beautiful.

Yes, the rear end has elements that,

from some angles, could resemble that

DB10, but the rest of it is aggressively

differentiated. The massive, long hood

has air vents like a rib cage with the

arrogance of a Corvette; the carbon

fiber wing sits so far up on the top of

the carbon fiber roof that it looks as

if it has been misplaced. (One man I

know compared it to a poorly rendered

lower back tribal tattoo; no comment.)

The sides are cut out and low, like a

radiator scooping the ground.

The car’s best feature is its tiny,

curved side windows, which follow

the line pulling from the front nose

through the side, ending in elegant

wisps that point down toward the

rear. Fisker said they’re a new element

in keeping with the main idea

of the car: to show off.

“This is an American supercar, and

American cars are always about ‘show

what you got—be upfront,’” Fisker said.

“European cars are more about what’s

underneath. But this is all about showing

the power.”

The long hood, too, is there for a

reason. It makes up more than half

the car in order to house a 8.4 liter

V10, 745-horsepower engine. Force

1 will go 218 miles per hour and will

hit 60mph in 3 seconds. It all makes

sense, again, because Fisker says the

car is an exercise in ostentation.

“We will have electric cars in the

future, but just like we don’t want to

eat salad every day, we want a steak

very once in a while, or maybe a dessert.

This is steak and dessert,” he said.

Fisker isn’t yet allowing test drives

of this beast. But with a chassis supplied

from Karma Automotive, a bunch

of torque in the lower gears, and that

V10 engine, suffice it to say that Force

1 will be extremely unique. (He told me

proudly that it’ll be something you can

“have a lot of fun in without breaking

the speed limit.”)

One thing Force 1 really isn’t about:

making money. Fisker said the reason

he made this car is so wealthy

men will have an American option

for spending $268,000 on a car. (It

will be sold globally, but I expect most

buyers will be American.)

He said he expects that these men

will already own several other luxury

cars—Land Rovers, maybe a McLaren—

and will relish the opportunity to buy

something born in the U.S.A. Better

yet, he doesn’t really need to make

that many of them—his new venture

with GM icon Bob Lutz, VFL Automotive,

is using preexisting design

facilities in California and manufacturing

facilities in Michigan to make

the new model, not to mention chassis

supplied by Fisker Automotive. That

means their costs, even when they

use such elements as that pure carbon

fiber rooftop, are pretty low.

Fisker has a lot on his plate as it is.

He will unveil a Benetti yacht in February

at the Miami Boat Show, host a

TV show with Esquire that will offer

a competition among car designers,

and develop an as-yet unnamed company

that will deal with electric cars.

(He sold the rights to make the Fisker

Karma but retains rights to the name.)

The Force 1, more than anything, is

an exercise for a prolific designer who

just loves cars.

“When I design a car, I want people

to look at it and go, ‘Wow, that’s kind

of interesting’ and do a second take,”

Fisker said. “When you are pulling

into a restaurant for dinner, you will

be the only one to have this car. We

want to be a little niche player with

this company, to offer that to people.”

He’ll make only 100 or so of them

this year. Production starts in April.

This is an Amercian

supercar, and

American cars are

always about “show

what you gotupfront”.


cars are more about

what’s underneath.

But this is all about

showing the power



Polish rating cut

as S&P warns

on power grab


WARSAW: Poland had its rating

downgraded by one of the

three major credit assessors for

the first time as Standard & Poor’s

warned that policies of the new

government are imperiling the

nation’s institutions.

The company cut Poland’s

debt grade to BBB+, the thirdlowest

investment level, in the

first rating move for the country

since 2007, according to a statement

issued on Friday.

The country’s outlook is negative,

meaning there’s at least a

one-in-three chance of another

cut over the next 24 months. Fitch

Ratings affirmed its A- rating in

a separate assessment.

The Law & Justice party has

tried to assert its influence over

state institutions after winning

an unprecedented parliamentary

majority in an October election,

limiting opposition oversight over

secret services and increasing its

influence over the constitutional

court and a public broadcaster,

moves that have sparked street

protests in the European Union’s

biggest eastern economy. The

Polish Finance Ministry said in

a statement Friday that the S&P

decision is “incomprehensible.”

“The downgrade reflects our

view that Poland’s system of institutional

checks and balances has

been eroded significantly as the

independence and effectiveness

of key institutions, such as the

constitutional court and public

broadcasting, is being weakened

by various legislative measures

initiated since the October 2015

election,” S&P said in its report.

The surprise decision comes

two days after the European

Commission took a first step to

discipline Poland’s new ruling

party for exerting greater sway

over the state, fueling a debate

about whether eastern Europe

is slipping back into its authoritarian


S&P’s move to lower Poland’s

sovereign rating doesn’t reflect

“economic and financial analysis,”

the Polish Finance Ministry

said in its e-mailed statement.

“This decision is contradictory

to assessments presented

by other rating agencies, the

biggest international financial

institutions and financial-market

participants,” according to

the ministry.

Fitch said Friday that it

affirmed Poland’s credit rating

with a stable outlook, reflecting

the country’s “strong macro

performance, resilient banking

system and governance indicators,”

according to the report.

S&P’s move sent the zloty to

its biggest daily drop since 2011

on a closing basis. The Polish currency

was trading at 4.4822 versus

the euro at 4:48 p.m. in New York,

the weakest since January 2012.

Among its peers in developing

Europe, the zloty is the secondworst

performer against the euro

after the Russian ruble in the past

three months. The country’s 2025

euro- denominated bonds slid

the most on record.

“This is a new era in ratings,

where ratings agencies are telling

us that they increasingly care

more about politics and the

reform outlook than any positive

economic fundamentals that

may support a country’s story,”

Simon Quijano-Evans, an economist

at Commerzbank AG in

London. He recommended clients

reduce their exposure to

Polish Eurobonds to underweight

from marketweight.



The $100-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment

Bank will boost infrastructure investment in Asia

and improve integration. The Bank will channel

more private investments into the projects in Asia

China’s President

Xi Jinping


World Bank Energy @


Renewable energy

imports from N Africa

can increase Europe’s

energy security

Dealogic @Dealogic

Qingdao Haier’s $5.4bn

bid for the appliance

business of GE is the

third largest China

M&A into the US on


World Bank @WorldBank

#Didyouknow: 4b ppl

or 60% of the world

population are not


The Economist @


For well over a decade,

China has been

the engine of global

growth. Can it




Banks will have very little

leeway once debt problems

arise. If the Federal Reserve

raises interest rates again,

banks should earn a bit

more, though not enough to

increase big returns


If the recent market

turbulence is frightening you,

you need to make sure you

understand why you own

risky assets in the first place

Market Talk


Steinberg clears of

insider trading case


MANHATTAN: Michael Steinberg,

a former fund manager at

SAC Capital Advisors LP, is free

and clear of all allegations that

he traded on insider tips after a

3 1/2-year fight with prosecutors

and regulators.

A Manhattan federal judge on

Friday granted the dismissal of

the US Securities and Exchange

Commission’s insider-trading

lawsuit against Steinberg following

an October decision by

federal prosecutors to abandon

the criminal case against him.

For Steinberg, who was the

longest-serving employee at

SAC Capital to be convicted in

the US probe of insider trading,

the dismissal is the final

victory in his years-long battle

against the US government. He

was found guilty in 2013 of an

insider scheme involving tech

stocks and sentenced to 3 1/2 years

in prison. After a federal appeals

court reversed the convictions of

two fund managers in a related

case, the government in October

dropped charges against Steinberg

as well as six other men who

pleaded guilty and cooperated

in the case.

Barry Berke, a lawyer for

Steinberg, didn’t immediately

respond to voice-mail and e-mail

messages left seeking comment

on the SEC’s decision to dismiss

the case.

The 2014 appeals court ruling

made insider-trading prosecutions

more difficult. The US

Supreme Court declined to hear

the government’s challenge of the

appeals court decision.

The SEC decision signals that

the regulator recognizes it faces

the same hurdles in pursuing civil

insider-trading cases as criminal

prosecutors do.

Steinberg, who handled

technology, media and telecommunications

stocks at SAC

Capital’s Sigma Capital Management

unit, was accused of

trading on illegal tips on technology

stocks provided by his

former securities analyst. He

denied wrongdoing.


PAGE | 32 PAGE | 35

Mavericks come

from behind to

beat Bulls

Brilliant Broad

bowls England to

series victory

SUNDAY 17 JANUARY 2016 • 7 Rabia II 1437




Qatar ‘fight’ delights coach Sanchez

The home team

brimming with

confidence and

looking for another

good outing against

Syria tomorrow

The Peninsula

DOHA: Qatar coach Felix Sanchez was

delighted to see the ‘fight’ from his boys

after the home team beat Iran 2-1 in

their Group A clash on day four of the

AFC U-23 Championship on Friday.

“It was nice to see the players fight

on the pitch,” coach Sanchez said yesterday.

“To achieve six points from two

games gives us confidence,” he added.

“No team is sure of reaching next round

though,” he said.

In what was a dominating performance,

Ahmed Alaa and Abdelkareem

Hassan on Friday produced a daredevil

show to fire the two goals for

the winners.

Alaa scored the first goal in the

40th minute while captain Hassan

found the net in the 56th minute at

Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. For Iran,

the deficit was reduced by Ali Karimi

in the 91st minute.

“Now we are looking at the third

clash. We will celebrate this win, rest

and prepare for next game,” he said.

Sanchez thanked the fans for the large

turnout at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

“It was great to see so many fans

cheering the team,” Sanchez said.

“The players enjoy such support and

get good vibes during a game. This is

a long event. There are many matches

to go. Tough teams are here in Qatar.

Thankfully I have all players at my disposal.

Iran have a good side. They are

physically also strong. But my players

counter-attacked well. They did not

let them dominate,” he said.

Qatar captain Abdelkareem Hassan,

meanwhile, termed his team’s

Qatar coach

Felix Sanchez

during their

Group A clash

of the AFC U-23


against Iran

which the home

team won 2-1 on




2-1 win against Asian powerhouse

as ‘important’. Qatar won 2-1 in their

AFC U-23 Championship match at Al

Sadd Stadium.

“This is an important win,” Hassan

said after scoring one of the two

goals on Friday. “We want to reach the

quarterfinals and I am hopeful we are

on right track,” he said.

Hassan scored twice in Qatar’s

3-1 win on Tuesday against China in

Group A.

Qatari midfielder Ahmad Moein

Doozandeh (right) and Iran’s

Ali Karimi vying for the ball

possession during their AFC

U-23 Championship game on


“Now we play Syria. We will play

to win. The coach has given us a plan.

We have been playing strong. We are

waiting to play the next clash,” he said.

Defender Yasser Ahmed said: “To

qualify for the next stage, we must continue

to fight. We gave our best and we

need to keep playing in the same


He added: “We are happy to get

three points. This gives us confidence.

I am sure we will be playing in the

same way. It will be a tough game but

we are ready.”

Qatar player Ahmed Al Saadi said

his team ‘deserved’ to win their match

against a powerful Iran side.

“We deserved to win since we battled

all the way,” Al Saadi yesterday.

“We dominated play most of the time.

“Our consistent run helped us overcome

Iran,” Al Saadi said. “Iran is one

of the more stronger sides in Asia. They

played well against Syria also. There

was a clear determination from our

side to win. Now we turn out focus on

Syria,” he said.

Influential Qatar midfielder Akram

Afif said his players ‘did well’ against

Iran in which the home side won 2-1.

“We played well as a team. It was a

difficult game, I have to say. We studied

our opponents well. We stuck to our

plans. We ran well and created pressure,”

Afif said yesterday.

“We did not deviate from the plan

of the coach,” he said. “Winning and

getting three points makes us happy.

We are looking to another good outing

against Syria (tomorrow),” Afif said.

“Like our coach said, we will go

step by step. We need more luck and

we can do wonders.”

“There was tension before the China

game but we feel that’s all gone now.

We can’t wait for the next match. We

will play to win, for sure. We have a

steely resolve to win,” Afif said.

Aspetar provides


medical services

The Peninsula

DOHA: In keeping with its pivotal role supporting

all global sports championships and

events hosted by the State of Qatar, Aspetar is

providing medical support for the AFC U-23

Championship, taking place in Doha from 12-30

January 2016.

The championship features 16 teams from

the Asian Football Confederation, with the top

three qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Aspetar provides medical services and support

for the duration of the championship.

Medical staff will be present on-site at the

multiple venues and stadiums in use during

the championship.

The team from Aspetar includes 40 sports

medicine experts, emergency medical technicians

and nurses all providing a full range of

medical care and support.

On-site first-aid, intervention and support

for serious injuries, and medical advice for the

participating teams are included in the services

being provided by Aspetar.

Since 2007, Aspetar, the world’s leading

orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital, has

provided comprehensive, world-class medical

care to the Qatar national team through the

National Sports Medicine Programme (NSMP).

Through this programme, the hospital provides

dedicated sports medicine staff to supervise

the team year-round, including sports medicine